Saturday 21 March 2020

Lebanon: Minister of Health Orders Discharge of Asymptomatic Patients under Monitored Home Isolation

ISIS cells are once again active in eastern Syria. Late on March 17, the Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces epelled an ISIS attack in the area between the town of al-Sukhna and the T3 station. The attack involved over two dozen ISIS members supported by at least 6 vehicles equipped with heavy weapons. Pro-opposition sources claim that at least 20 Syrian soldiers were killed in the clashes. Pro-government sources deny casualties and say that terrorists were forced to retreat after they had been targeted by artillery and mortar fire.
The ISIS presence in the desert area of eastern Syria had been slowly decreasing over the past year. Additionally, government forces carried out several security operations cracking down on the remaining ISIS cells in southeastern Deir Ezzor and eastern Homs. However, the terrorist threat was not removed. Syria and Russia say that ISIS members use the US-controlled zone of al-Tanf as a safe haven to hide from Syrian Army operations.
Five civilians were reportedly killed and 15 others injured in a rocket strike on the city of Afrin on March 18. Pro-Turkish sources say that the rockets were launched by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) or affiliated rebels. The YPG created the brand of the Afrin Liberation Forces in December 2018 in order to distance themselves from regular attacks on the Turkish-controlled part of northwestern Syria. In this way, the YPG, which is the core of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, was seeking to distance itself from operations against Turkish forces. The goal was to continue receiving military and financial support from the United States, while simultaneously using the same resources to carry out attacks on the formal ally of the US under another brandname.
Alaa al-Omar, a commander of one of the largest units in the Turkish-backed Ahrar al-Sham Movement, was assassinated near Jisr al-Shughur in the southwestern part of Greater Idlib. Al-Omar was among commanders of Turkish proxy groups involved in sabotaging joint Russian-Turkish patrols along the M4 highway. Pro-government sources claim that his assassination is a result of the contradiction between al-Omar’s unit and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Turkistan Islamic Party, which controls Jisr al-Shughur. According to this theory, al-Omar was not active enough in organizing protests against the safe zone deal.
Regardless of the contradictions among the Idlib armed groups, the M4 highway remains closed and the Turkish-Russian agreement on the safe zone in the area is not being implemented.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

‘Moderate Rebels’ Bite Hand That Feeds Them. 2 Turkish Soldiers Killed In Idlib

Syria entered the second half of the week with a new spike of tensions in Greater Idlib. This escalation has been widely expected because militant groups are sabotaging key parts of the Russian-Turkish agreement on de-escalation in the area.
Radicals kept their positions along the M4 highway, where a security zone was set to be created, and blocked the planned joint Russian-Turkish patrols there. On March 19, they expanded their strategy with direct actions against Turkish and Russian forces. At least two improvised explosive devices exploded along the route of a Turkish military column near the village of Muhamabal. 2 Turkish soldiers were killed and several others were injured. Opposition sources initially reported that Horas al-Din, one of multiple al-Qaeda-affiliated organizations in Idlib, was behind the attack. Nonetheless, Horas al-Din itself denied responsibility for the incident. There is no surprise that the group indirectly receiving support from Turkey denied such a move. Later, pro-militant media adapted their version of events blaming ISIS cells and even Assad agents. The March 19 developments demonstrated that Ankara does not fully control the terrorist organizations that it is protecting from the Syrian Army in an attempt to solidify its own influence in the region. Therefore, in some conditions, Turkish-backed terrorists become a threat to Turkey and its forces themselves.
The Turkish leadership fully understands that the ceasefire will not survive too long without the neutralization of terrorists. So, the Turkish Army continues its military buildup in the area. Turkish forces set up new positions near Ram Hamadan and al-Jinah. Additionally, three Turkish convoys, consisting of dozens of battle tanks, armored vehicles, rocket launchers and howitzers crossed the Turkish border with the Syrian province of Idlib.
Turkish units also conducted a modest attempt to de-block the M4 highway by removing earthen mounds left by militants. The situation on the frontline is also escalating. Late on March 19, the Syrian Army repelled an attack on its positions near Hizareen. Syrian state media claimed that militants suffered heavy casualties in the clashes. Wa Harid al-Muminin, a coalition of small al-Qaeda-linked groups, claimed responsibility for the attack. It released its own statement saying that 15 “regime troops” had been killed.
Meanwhile, the Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces started reinforcing their positions in southern Idlib and northern Lattakia with fresh troops and military equipment. Pro-government sources claim that Jisr al-Shughur, the town controlled by the Turkistan Islamic Party, will become the target of the army offensive, if the ceasefire collapses.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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أميركا وعملاؤها يعاقبون إيطاليا بـ «كورونا» والصين هي الهدف

أردوغان يمنع تصدير 25 مليون كمامة لمكافحة الفيروس كانت إيطاليا قد تعاقدت مع شركة تركية لصناعتها ودفعت ثمنها مسبقاً.
توجّهت الحكومه الإيطالية إثر استمرار رفض أردوغان لتسليم البضاعة إلى الصين ووقعت معها اتفاقية لتوريد ١٠٠ مليون كمامة.
أما الإداره الأميركية فقد استولت على نصف مليون إصبع فحص لغاز “كورونا” كانت في عهدة السرب الجويّ الأميركيّ الحادي والثلاثين والمنتشر في قاعدة “أفيانو” شمال إيطاليا.
هذا ما أفادت به قبل قليل مصادر صحافة استقصائيّة متخصّصة في متابعة تطوّرات وباء “كورونا”.
من جهة أخرى، ولكن في السياق نفسه، فقد أكد مصدر استخباري غربي لنا بأنّ السلطات الفرنسية حجزت كميات ضخمة من الأجهزة الطبية المرسلة من الدولة الصينية الى إيطاليا كانت قد أفرغت في مرفأ مرسيليا، ‏وطبقاً للمعلومات الواصلة من المرفأ الفرنسي فإنّ سلطات مرسيليا صادرت الأجهزة من دون تقديم أسباب وجيهة.
هذا ويُعتقد أنّ الفرنسيين قد يكونون فعلوا ذلك بالتنسيق أو بضغط من الأميركيين والاتحاد الأوروبي عموماً الغاضبين على إيطاليا بسبب عقد الإيطاليين اتفاقاً استراتيجياً مهماً مع الصينيّين قبل سنة تماماً من الآن قيمته مليارات عدة من الدولارات في إطار المشروع الصينيّ العالميّ المعروف بـ “حزام واحد طريق واحد”، وهو ما كان أثار غضب أعضاء دول الاتحاد وكذلك الإدارة الأميركية…
هذا ومن المعروف أنّ هذه الأجهزة والمعدات الواصلة أمس، إلى مرسيليا ضرورية جداً لعمل الطاقم الصينيّ الذي كان قد وصل قبل أيام بالطائرة إلى روما في إطار حملة المساعدات الصينية لكلّ من إيران وايطاليا والعراق ولبنان في مواجهة تفشي وباء “كورونا”.
بعدنا طيّبين، قولوا الله…

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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Sayyed Nasrallah: Our Resistance The Most Honorable One in Modern History

Sayyed Nasrallah

Stressing that accusations of treason against Hezbollah in the case of Israeli collaborator Amer Fakhoury can’t be accepted anymore, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah described the Resistance as the most honorable one in the modern history.
In a televised speech on Friday night via Al-Manar TV, Sayyed Nasrallah hit back at all those who accused Hezbollah in the case of Fakhoury, who was acquitted by Lebanon’s military tribunal and then released and airlifted outside Lebanon to the United States.
His eminence said that the Resistance party didn’t know of the acquittal in advance, stressing that Hezbollah’s stance in this regard is known and out of moral principles that refuses acquittal of those who took part in murdering and torturing Lebanese people and Resistance fighters.
On the coronavirus crisis, Sayyed Nasrallah called on people to stay home in a bid to prevent the outbreak of the deadly virus, as he slammed the sectarian dealing with the matter.
Facts about Fakhoury Case
Sayyed Nasrallah started his speech by saying that he would clarify several issues related to the military tribunal’s decision to acquit Fakhoury, noting that there has been an anti-Hezbollah propaganda aimed at undermining the confidence between the Resistance and its supporters.
“We rely on Resistance supporters’ awareness, faith and patience. Our responsibility is to be transparent with our people whom we care for their smile and their tears.”
His eminence then stressed that Hezbollah did not know of the court’s decision in advance, denying that there has been a deal in this regard.
The Resistance Leader then went on to talk about US pressures and threats to Lebanon in order to release the notorious Israeli collaborator.
“The US has been for six months exerting all forms of pressures and threats against Lebanon in order to release Fakhoury.”
“US threatened several Lebanese judges, some of whom refused to release Fakhoury and some of whom yielded to the pressures,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, noting that Washington threatened to blacklist some Lebanese officials and to halt the military aid to the Lebanese Army.
The Hezbollah S.G. said that when contacted, Hezbollah stressed that he refuses Lebanon’s surrender to US pressures.
He pointed to the great propaganda campaign after Fakhoury was airlifted by US helicopter outside the country.
“The enemy has been propagating that Hezbollah controls Lebanon and its judiciary. Many know that such accusations are baseless.”
Accusations of Treason Unacceptable
His eminence then slammed some Hezbollah allies, whom he did not mention, stressing that “whoever insists on accusing Hezbollah of being responsible for releasing Fakhoury then he insists on keeping himself in the category of opponent and enemy.”
Sayyed Nasrallah also hit back at some comments slamming Hezbollah over the issue of Fakhoury.
“To those who wonder how Hezbollah which launched May 7 (2007) battle over sacking an official in Beirut International Airport, how couldn’t he have a say in Fakhoury’s case: May 7 took place because back then decided on an issue related to disarming Hezbollah and the Resistance weapon was at danger,” Sayyed Nasrallah said, wondering if a similar battle now serves the national interest.
“What would Hezbollah do? Would we make an ambush against the Lebanese Army convoy which was transferrin Fakhoury? Would we kill Lebanese Army officers and soldiers in a bid to prevent the release of Fakhoury? Does this serve the national interest?”
“To those who say that our minister should have resign in protest to Fakhoury’s release, and that we should have topple the government: In circumstances like this- economic crisis and coronavirus outbreak- is it right to topple the government?”
In this context, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that the blame should be on the United States which violated the Lebanese sovereignty.
His eminence stressed meanwhile that the case of Fakhoury must be followed up by the Lebanese judiciary and the collaborator must be considered fugitive since he was transferred outside the country despite a travel ban.
Sayyed Nasrallah also called for forming a committee to investigate in the acquittal decision by the military court.
Hezbollah S.G. then made it clear that the Resistance Party can’t no more accept accusations of treasons and insults, noting that Hezbollah allies should have ask for an explanation before making such accusations.
“There are two things that can’t be accepted: accusations of betrayal and insults. We offer our blood for our dignity, so it’s unacceptable to accuse us of treason. Whoever wants to be our ally then he must not do these two things, or else let him out of our friendship circle.”
“This Resistance is the most honorable, honest and pure one in the modern history. We are keen to preserve our alliance but it is not acceptable to accuse us of treason and insult us.”
Sayyed Nasrallah in this context regretted that he was put in such position to defend the Resistance in the case of a criminal Israeli collaborator.
Coronavirus Crisis
Tackling the coronavirus crisis in Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah underlined the importance of staying home by Lebanese citizens in order to prevent the spread of the contagious disease.
“We are in a state of general Mobilization and people must bear their responsibility in this regard.”
His eminence slammed the sectarian dealing with the outbreak.
“We are people who live in the same country. It’s shameful to deal with the matter on sectarian basis.”
Sayyed Nasrallah also voiced support to the government’s measures, calling on it to take what it sees appropriate.
“If there is an interest to isolate a region then let the government go ahead with such measure, regardless of this area’s sect.”
His eminence reiterated his call for social solidarity, as he also reiterated Hezbollah’s readiness to put all its health capabilities under the service of the government and the Health Ministry.
“So far nearly 20,000 of Hezbollah’s members and supporters who are involved in the battle against coronavirus.”
Sayyed Nasrallah on the other hand, warned against the spread of coronavirus in Gaza, Yemen and among Palestinian prisoners at Israeli jails.
He lashed out at US President Donald Trump over his comments on coronavirus vaccine and his administration’s sanctions against Iran amid the spread of the coronavirus in the Islamic Republic.
“Trump is racist. He wants the coronavirus vaccine exclusively for the US. Trump is not a human being. He is an alien.”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

انتهت الدولة الممسوكة ولم تقُم الدولة المتماسكة

مع الشعور بالمهانة والذل اللذين يقبضان على أنفاسنا، ونحن نرى مشهد وصول العميل عامر فاخوري إلى أحضان الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب، تغمرنا التساؤلات حول كيف تمكن الأميركيون من النجاح في ترتيب هذا الانتهاك السافر لما هو أبعد من سيادتنا، وصولاً لوصمة عار أصابت كرامتنا الوطنية، في ظل زمن نعتز ونفتخر بأنه زمن المقاومة التي حرّرت وحققت النصر تلو الآخر، وهي تزداد قوة وتصير الرقم الأصعب بلا منازع في معادلات المنطقة، لكنها تبدو الرقم الضعيف في معادلة الدولة اللبنانية.
لن تغيّر من قناعة أيّ وطني أو مقاوم، كل دموع التماسيح التي يذرفها أدعياء السيادة وهم يصبّون جام غضبهم على المقاومة، ولا يهمهم أن يكون الأميركي قد قام بانتهاك سيادتنا، بقدر ما يعنيهم تسجيل الشماتة وزرع الشكوك. فالعمالة ستبقى تحمل اسماً واحداً هو العمالة وستبقى جريمة لا يسقطها مرور الزمن، والأميركي سيبقى هو الراعي والحامي لفكرة العمالة، والذين يلوذون به سيبقون أحصنة طروادة لتفكيك عناصر القوة في بلدنا، وسيبقون مشاريع جاهزة للانقضاض على أحلامنا التي أصيبت في الصميم مع هذا المشهد المخزي والمشين الذي وسم لبنان المقاوم والمنتصر على العدوان.
نستذكر ما قبل وما بعد التحرير، والمقاومة لم تكن بقوتها اليوم، ونتساءل هل كان هذا ليحدث في عهد الرئيس العماد إميل لحود، قائداً للجيش أو رئيساً للجمهورية، ونقطع بالجواب نفياً، ونستذكر أن حروباً خيضت على تلك المرحلة وجرى توصيفها كمرحلة سوداء مرّة بوصفها بأنها نموذج عهد الوصاية، ومرّة بزمن النظام الأمنيّ، والمقاومة وجمهورها ومحبوها لم يمانعوا في التعامل بإيجابية مع دعوات الخروج من الدولة الممسوكة، التي كان عنوانها الدور السوري في لبنان، وهو دور سيبقى، مهما قيل فيه من الذين لم يقدّموا شهيداً واحداً في مواجهة الاحتلال الإسرائيلي طوال عشرين عاماً، مصدر القوة التي نشأت في كنفها الدولة ونمى في حضنها مشروعها ومؤسساتها، وطويت في ظلاله صفحة الحرب الأهلية.
سورية ليست معنية بهذا النقاش، وهي بالحزم والجزم والقول النهائيّ الذي لا رجعة عنه، لن تعود للعب دور في لبنان ولو طلب منها كل اللبنانيين ذلك، فقد اختبرت سورية قوتها وهي خارج لبنان، كما اختبرت مصر في حرب الاستنزاف مع جمال عبد الناصر قوتها بعد الانسحاب من اليمن، واكتشفت سورية في تجربتها مع الحرب التي خيضت عليها، مكانة مفهوم السيادة الوطنية كمحرّك معنوي للشعوب، وبمثل ما ترفض أن يتدخل أحد في شؤونها قررت أنها لن تتدخل بشأن أحد، ولذلك ليس أمام اللبنانيين وهم يقولون لا للدولة الممسوكة إلا أن يبقوا على كلامهم لأنهم لن يجدوا من يتولى إمساكها مجدداً، وبالتالي عليهم الاختيار بين دولة الجزر والشظايا التي يعيشون في ظلها، والتي يسهل اختراقها والتلاعب بها كما قالت الأيام السوداء لعمليّة اختطاف جزار الخيام، رغم ملفه القضائي الذي أعيد فتحه، وتهريبه بطائرة من معبر غير شرعي عبر السفارة الأميركية في عوكر، وبين الدولة المتماسكة، الدولة التي لا يخشى فيها القاضي على مصالحه ويخاف العقوبات أو يضعف أمام الإغراءات، ولا ينطق إلا بالحق بلسان الشعب اللبناني، ولا يجرؤ فيها أي كان على العبث بسيادتها، والسير بين شقوقها العسكرية والأمنية والدبلوماسية.
خرجنا من الدولة الممسوكة ولم ندخل الدولة المتماسكة، فصرنا مجموعة جزر وشظايا، تحكم علاقاتها مصالح تخصّ كلاً منها وسياسات تسيّر كلاً منها، وحسابات تتحكم بكلّ منها. وها نحن في الملف المالي كما في الملف الأمني كما في الملف القضائي نشعر بهشاشة الدولة، وضعفها كفكرة، وغيابها كمشروع.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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Thousands of Israeli Soldiers Quarantined Due to Coronavirus

Global Research, March 20, 2020
Middle East Monitor 18 March 2020
Israeli security officials said on Tuesday that they expect the operational efficiency of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to decline with thousands of troops quarantined due to the coronavirus crisis, has reported.
According to Wallah news website, 4,267 Israeli soldiers are in quarantine by order of the Ministry of Health. Many have tested positive for the virus, Covid-19. Although some officials denied that operational efficiency has been affected, others expressed their concerns because many senior officers are among those in quarantine.
As of Tuesday, said Arab, the IDF has imposed a curfew on military bases for 30 days in order to reduce the opportunities for soldiers to associate with others. Furthermore, several security procedures have been suspended as part of precautionary measures against the spread of the virus.
The IDF is worried about relocating troops as this might take the virus from one brigade or unit to another.
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Featured image: Israel fights with coronavirus fears – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]The original source of this article is Middle East MonitorCopyright © Middle East MonitorMiddle East Monitor, 2020

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Friday 20 March 2020

China’s Wuhan Marks No New Coronavirus Case, Success of Strict Measures

By Xinhua
Global Research, March 20, 2020
Xinhua 19 March 2020
No new infections of the novel coronavirus were reported on Wednesday in Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, marking a notable first in the city’s months-long battle with the deadly virus and sending a message of hope to the world gripped by the pandemic.
The Health Commission of Hubei Province, where Wuhan is the capital, said the virus’ death toll climbed by eight in the province, but the total confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Wuhan and Hubei remained at 50,005 and 67,800 on Wednesday.
No increase was observed in the province’s number of suspected cases, which fell to zero on Tuesday, in another indication that large-scale transmissions have been suppressed at the epidemic ground zero after a slew of strict measures.
Previously, the central Chinese province had reported single-digit increases of new infections, all of which were from Wuhan, for a week in a row since last Wednesday. A month ago, the figure was several thousand a day.
The province also saw 795 patients discharged from hospital after recovery on Wednesday, reducing its caseload of hospitalized patients to 6,636, including 1,809 in severe condition and 465 in critical condition.
With no new cases in Wuhan, the Chinese mainland on Wednesday reduced the increase in domestic transmissions to zero, according to the National Health Commission. The country now faces a greater threat of infections imported from overseas, which jumped by 34 on Wednesday.
“The clearing of new infections in Wuhan came earlier than predicted, but it is still too early to let down our guard,” said Zhang Boli, one of the leading experts advising on the epidemic fight in Hubei.
Arduous work still lies ahead as China strengthens its defence against imported cases from abroad, treats thousands of patients still in serious or critical condition and rehabilitates those discharged from hospitals, said Zhang, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
“Cunning Virus”
The novel coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan in December as a new pathogen facing mankind. Before its traits were fully understood, the virus had cut a swath of infections among Wuhan’s unsuspecting public, before jumping from the transportation hub to other parts of China via the largest seasonal human migration ahead of the Spring Festival.
The Chinese leadership has described the COVID-19 outbreak as the most difficult to contain since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and “a big test” for the country.
Medical experts said the virus is more contagious, though less deadly, than the SARS virus that belongs to the same coronavirus family. Globally, the SARS virus infected 8,422 people and killed 919 between 2002 and 2003.
“We still have insufficient knowledge of the novel coronavirus. What we already know is it’s a very cunning virus with a long incubation period,” said Wang Daowen, a cardiologist at Tongji Hospital in Wuhan.
“We still found the virus from the anus, if not from the lungs, of one patient after he was hospitalized for 50 days,” said Wang, who was among the first medical experts joining the treatment of COVID-19. “Usually, a virus should vanish from one’s body in two weeks.”
Turning Tide
China began to see a drop in the number of COVID-19 patients on Feb. 18, after the number of recovered patients surged and new cases declined. By late February, the virus had withdrawn from most territories on the Chinese mainland, with only single-digit daily increases of infections in areas outside Wuhan.
On March 6, the epidemic epicenter Wuhan slashed the daily increase of confirmed cases to below 100, down from a peak of more than 14,000 in early February. Bruce Aylward, who led the China-WHO joint mission on COVID-19, said the outbreak in China had come down “faster than would have been expected.”
On March 11, the daily increase of locally transmitted infections dropped to single digits for the first time on the Chinese mainland. The virus has so far caused a total of 80,928 infections and 3,245 fatalities, defying earlier predictions by foreign researchers of a more extensive national outbreak.Eight Negative Arguments Smearing China’s Virus Fight Must be Refuted
Behind the downward trends were a raft of strong measures taken by the Chinese government, including canceling mass events, closing scenic attractions, suspending long-distance buses and asking hundreds of millions of Chinese to stay indoors to break transmission chain.
On Jan. 23, Wuhan declared unprecedented traffic restrictions, including suspending the city’s public transport and all outbound flights and trains, in an attempt to contain the epidemic within its territory.
The situation in Wuhan and its nearby cities was grim. Officials said more than 3,000 medics in Hubei contracted the virus at the early stage of the outbreak due to limited knowledge of the virus. Many families lost multiple loved ones.
Following reports of overloaded local hospitals, more than 42,000 medical staff, including those from the military, were dispatched to Hubei from across the country. At the peak of the fight, one in 10 intensive care medics in China were working in Wuhan.
Fleets of trucks carrying aid goods and displaying banners of “Wuhan be strong!” rushed to the city from all corners of the country. Under a “pairing-up support” system, each city in Hubei is taken care of by at least one provincial-level region.
To ensure the timely admission of patients, two hospitals with a total of 2,600 beds were built from scratch in Wuhan within a few days, and 16 temporary hospitals were converted from gyms and exhibition centers to add 13,000 beds. Nucleic acid testing (NAT) capacity in Wuhan reached 24,000 people a day. Testing is made free and treatment fees are covered by China’s basic medical insurance.
Huang Juan, 38, witnessed the first few days of chaos and despair at local hospitals before calm and order gradually set in amid the influx of support.
Huang recalled the hospitals were packed with patients — over 100 patients were waiting for the injection but only one nurse was around. Every day, her mother who had a fever on the eve of the Spring Festival in late January waited 10 hours to be injected.
After a week of imploration, Huang finally found a hospital willing to admit her mother. Ten days later, her mother was discharged upon negative NAT results. “She still had symptoms, but there was no choice, as many patients were waiting for beds,” Huang said.
The situation improved when her father, also diagnosed with the disease, was hospitalized on Feb. 19.
“He was discharged after the doctor confirmed his recovery on March 11. It was apparent that the standards for discharge were raised as Wuhan got sufficient beds,” Huang said.
Cui Cui (pseudonym), 57, also testified to the improving situation. The Wuhan resident was transferred to the newly built Huoshenshan (Fire God Mountain) Hospital as her sickness worsened on Feb. 10.
The military-run hospital that treats severe cases impressed her with a calm ambiance. “Doctors and nurses there called me ‘auntie’ instead of ‘patient’ and spent time chatting with me to ease my anxiety,” said Cui, who was discharged after recovering on Feb. 26.
Community Control
Outside Hubei, the battle against the epidemic has tested the mobilization capacity of China’s big cities and remote villages alike as they scrambled to prevent sporadic imported cases from evolving into community outbreaks.
Earlier this month, Beijing said about 827,000 people who returned to the capital city after the Spring Festival holiday were placed in two-week home observation. Around 161,000 property management staff and security guards were on duty to enforce the quarantine rules.
Shanghai, a metropolis in eastern China, has demanded its over 13,000 residential communities to guard their gates and take temperatures of residents upon entrance, according to Zeng Qun, deputy head of the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.
Quyi Community was among the first Shanghai neighborhoods to adopt closed-off management. Since late January, it has been disinfecting public areas, introducing contactless deliveries and ensuring residents returning from severely affected regions are placed in quarantine.
“For those who are under self-quarantine at home, health workers will provide door-to-door visits every day, and services from grocery shopping to psychological counseling are offered,” said Huang Ying, an official with Hongkou District where the community is located.
Shanghai, with a population of 24 million, is among China’s most populous cities and a commercial hub. It was once predicted as the most susceptible to a coronavirus outbreak.
Mathematical models estimated that without prevention and control measures, Shanghai’s infection numbers would exceed 100,000. Even with some interventions, the figure could still reach tens of thousands, according to Zhang Wenhong, who heads Shanghai’s medical team to fight the epidemic.
“But now, the infection number is just over 300. This means the measures taken by Shanghai over the past month are effective,” Zhang said, describing the city as an epitome of China’s battle against the epidemic.
New Battlegrounds
China’s economy became a new battleground as the war against the virus wore on, delaying the reopening of plants after the Spring Festival holiday and causing a shortage of workers with the nationwide traffic restrictions in place.
China has about 170 million rural migrant workers employed away from their hometowns, many of whom could not return to work as enterprises across the country began to resume production on Feb. 10.
In response, local governments have arranged chartered flights and trains to take workers directly to the factories while issuing subsidies to tide companies over difficulties. By early March, the southern manufacturing heartland Guangdong Province had seen 91.2 percent of firms resume operation.
Almost every sector of Chinese society has chipped in on the anti-virus fight, from barbers offering medics free haircuts to factories revamping their assembly lines to produce medical masks.
According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China’s output of protective clothing has surged to 500,000 pieces per day from fewer than 20,000 pieces at the beginning of the outbreak. The daily output of N95-rated medical masks rose from 200,000 to 1.6 million, while that of regular masks reached 100 million.
“China’s economic and social development over the past decade has laid a sound foundation for the fight against the epidemic and enabled the society to mobilize more quickly,” said Tang Bei, an international public health researcher at Shanghai International Studies University.
China’s tech boom also made contributions — tech companies rolled out disinfecting robots, thermal camera-equipped drones and AI-powered temperature measurement equipment, which have been rapidly deployed to reduce the risks of cross-infection.
The outbreak has led to what is being called “the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.” The number of online meetings supported by Tencent Meeting on Feb. 10, when most enterprises started resuming work, was 100 times that of its previous average daily use.
Lu Chuanying, a researcher with Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said digital technologies have risen to the fore, not only in the country’s anti-virus efforts but also in the recovery of the virus-hit economy.
“Remote consultations, artificial intelligence and big data were used to contain the epidemic, while telecommuting, online education and online vegetable markets have kept our lives in quarantine going,” Lu said.
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Featured image: People enjoy sunset on a plank road at the Donghu Lake in Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province, March 18, 2020. No new infections of the novel coronavirus were reported on Wednesday in Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, marking a notable first in the city’s months-long battle with the microscopic foe. (Xinhua/Shen Bohan)The original source of this article is XinhuaCopyright © XinhuaXinhua, 2020

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انتصارات شرق صنعاء تقوّض مشاريع التقسيم

انتصارات شرق صنعاء تقوّض مشاريع التقسيم
في حال تمكّنت صنعاء من استعادة مدينة مأرب يكون «الإصلاح» قد خسر أهم الموارد الاقتصادية (أ ف ب )

الخميس 19 آذار 2020
قوّضت الانتصارات الأخيرة للجيش اليمني واللجان الشعبية، شرق العاصمة صنعاء، المخطّطات التي كانت تُعدّ لليمن، ومنعت التحالف السعودي من إمكانية رسم أي خارطة لليمن وفق رغباته وأطماعهفرضت صنعاء، مجدّداً، نفسها كصاحبة القرار الأول والأخير في تقرير مصير اليمن، بالتعاون مع المكوّنات الأخرى. تسلط السيطرة على مأرب (المؤجلة بانتظار قرار سياسي)، من قبل قوات صنعاء، أنظار «الأعداء» والمهتمّين بالشأن اليمني على الوجهة التالية للجيش اليمني واللجان الشعبية. قوى العدوان السعودي تتوجّس بشكل أساسي من فقدان مواقع احتلتها العام الماضي في محافظة الحديدة. وقد قامت هذه القوى بخطوات استباقية كإرسال تعزيزات عسكرية، وأخرى سياسية من خلال سحب مندوبيها من لجنة المراقبة الأممية المنبثقة من «اتفاق السويد» للضغط على الأمم المتحدة لطلب المزيد من الضمانات تحسّباً لأعمال عسكرية قد تقوم بها صنعاء.
يتعامل فريق ما يسمّى «الشرعية» (حكومة الرئيس المنتهية ولايته عبد ربه منصور هادي) مع مأرب بحكم الساقطة عسكرياً. وهذا ما اعترف به في وقت سابق مستشار هادي، أحمد عبيد بن دغر، إذ أكد أن الهزيمة ستأتي في قادم الأيام بشكل أكبر، قائلاً: «سنتلقى جميعاً هزيمة تاريخية نكراء». علّل ذلك بعدة أسباب، أبرزها؛ الانقسام بين قوى التحالف، وحصول «أنصار الله» على وسائل وعوامل القوة التي أتاحت لها الصمود وتتيح لها التقدّم اليومي.
تفيد معلومات حصلت عليها «الأخبار» بأن مخططاً بريطانياً كان يعدّ لتقسيم اليمن إلى أربعة أقاليم، وذلك وفق السيطرة العسكرية للقوى المحلية (قوى الأمر الواقع). إلا أن الخلفية الحقيقية لهذه الأقاليم حصر «أنصار الله» في إقليم واحد، والحد من انتشارهم إلى بقية الأقاليم. وإذا دُعيت الأطراف المحلية إلى طاولة المفاوضات تكون حركة «أنصار الله» واحداً من أربعة، أو حتى خمسة. وقد جاء تقسيم الأقاليم الأربعة على النحو الآتي:
– إقليمان في الجنوب: الأوّل، في المحافظات الغربية، وهي عدن ولحج وأبين والضالع، يسيطر عليه «المجلس الانتقالي الجنوبي». الثاني، في المحافظات الشرقية، وهي شبوة وحضرموت والمهرة، وتكون السيطرة فيه لحزب «التجمع اليمني للإصلاح» («الإخوان المسلمون» في اليمن)، على أن تتم مراعاة المصالح العمانية في المهرة ومصالح دولة الإمارات في جزيرة سقطرى.
– إقليمان في المحافظات الشمالية: الأوّل، يشمل محافظات «شمال الشمال» وتسيطر عليه «أنصار الله». الثاني، يشمل محافظات تعز ومأرب والجوف والأجزاء المحتلة من الحديدة، على أن يتم توزيع النفوذ فيه بين «المؤتمر الشعبي العام» – جناج أبوظبي بقيادة طارق صالح، و«الإصلاح» الذي سيحتفظ بالمناطق التي تُعدّ مناطق نفوذ له.

المخطّط البريطاني كان يعدّ لتقسيم اليمن إلى أربعة أقاليم

وعلى هذا الأساس، كانت أبوظبي تسعى بكل جهدها في توسيع دائرة نفوذها في هذه المناطق، وقد نجحت بفرض عدد من القيادات العسكرية في التشكيلات العسكرية لما يسمى «الشرعية». إلا أن الانتصارات التي حقّقها الجيش اليمني في فرضة نهم ومحافظتي الجوف ومأرب قوّضت المخطط بشكله الكامل. ولئن خسر «الإصلاح» محافظتين مهمّتين، هما مأرب والجوف، فإن حزب «المؤتمر الشعبي العام» ــــ جناحي الرياض وأبوظبي ـــ خسر أي أمل في التواجد في المحافظات الشمالية، باستثناء مدينة المخا غرب تعز وجيوب محدودة في محافظة الحديدة.
ومنذ استعادة الجوف من قبل الجيش و«اللجان»، بدأ تركيز حلفاء التحالف جهودهم على محافظات شرق اليمن (شبوة، حضرموت، المهرة، سقطرى). ينقل حزب «الإصلاح» المنضوي في حكومة هادي الإمدادات العسكرية واللوجستية والمالية من مدينة مأرب إلى هذه المحافظات كملاذ آمن، فيما فرّ كبار المسؤولين والقادة ورجال الأعمال المقرّبين وعائلاتهم إلى مدينة سيئون في وادي حضرموت خشية سقوط المدينة. تركيز «الإصلاح» على سيئون يعود لاعتبار أن مطارها مسموح له بتسيير الرحلات إلى الخارج، بالإضافة إلى مطار عدن. يفقد «الإصلاح» البيئة الحاضنة في المكلا مركز محافظة حضرموت، التي لا تزال تحتفظ بقاعدة شعبية واسعة لـ«الحراك الجنوبي» بفصائله كافة، لكن تنتشر هناك «الفرقة الأولى» التابعة لقوات «الجيش الوطني» (تتبع حكومة هادي وتوالي «الإصلاح» في الوادي وتتخذ من سيئون مقرّاً لها). وفي سياق تعزيز الحضور السياسي، زار نائب الرئيس هادي، الجنرال علي محسن الأحمر، الذي يعدّ الزعيم السياسي والعسكري لـ«الإصلاح» وادي حضرموت، الأسبوع الماضي، وعقد لقاءات مع الفعّاليات السياسية والعسكرية والاجتماعية للمنطقة.
يستفيد «الإصلاح» من التموضعات المختلفة لقياداته الموزّعة الولاء بين دول الخليج، ولا سيما السعودية وقطر، رغم الخصومة الشديدة بين الدولتين. فبينما تؤمّن المملكة السعودية الدعم الكامل للألوية العسكرية الموالية لـ«الإصلاح» والتي تقاتل ضمن تشكيلات «الشرعية». ويستفيد الحزب من شبكة المصالح الإقليمية التي تجمع كلاً من قطر وسلطنة عمان، وتسمح الأخيرة لقيادات «الإصلاح» – جناح قطر \ تركيا، باتخاذ السلطنة مقرّاً لهم. وتتيح مسقط للكوادر والقيادات الكبيرة مساحة واسعة من التحرّك والانتقال من وإلى المحافظات اليمنية الشرقية، حيث تعقد هذه القيادات تحالفات قبلية أبرزها مع الزعيم القبلي في محافظة المهرة علي سالم الحريزي، الذي يقود حركة احتجاج سلمي بوجه الاحتلال السعودي للمحافظة. ومن أبرز مسؤولي «الإصلاح» في مسقط حمود المخلافي، قائد ميليشيات «مقاومة تعز»، الذي لا يزال يعمل على إقامة تشكيلات عسكرية مموّلة من قطر في محافظة تعز وسط البلاد.
في حال تمكّنت صنعاء من استعادة مدينة مأرب يكون «الإصلاح» قد خسر أهم الموارد الاقتصادية، وهي استئثاره بحقول النفط والغاز فيها. إلا أن «الإصلاح» لن يخسر كل موارده الاقتصادية والمالية. فسيبقى ممسكاً بمحافظة شبوة الغنية بالنفط والغاز، بالإضافة إلى محافظة حضرموت، الأمر الذي يؤجّج الصراع مع «الانتقالي الجنوبي» المسيطر على المحافظات الغربية التي تفتقد إلى موارد مالية تفي باحتياجات «الانتقالي» في حال قرّر القيام بإدارة تلك المحافظات بعيداً عن حكومة هادي.
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Posted on  by Elijah J Magnier
By Elijah J. Magnier:  @ejmalrai
Following Iraqi president Barham Saleh’s nomination of Adnan al-Zarfi (Zurufi or Zurfi) as the new Prime Minister, Iraq has entered a critical stage.  The Shia block is divided. The 30 days given to al-Zarfi to nominate his cabinet will lead either to a quorum of the parliament recognising his new cabinet and in consequences to a bloody future that could lead to unrest and even partition of Iraq or absence of a quorum. Why did President Saleh nominate al-Zarfi?
In 2018 Speaker Mohamad Halbousi proposed Barham Saleh as President. The proposal was adopted by “Al-Fateh”, the largest Shia coalition, with the agreement of the Sunni. Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani and US presidential envoy Brett McGurk were against the nomination of Saleh. It was Iranian IRGC Major General Qassem Soleimani who pushed for Barham Saleh to become president. Saleh, upon his nomination, promised Soleimani to be “better than Mam Jalal” (Uncle Jalal Talibani, one of Iran’s closest allies). Once Saleh was elected, he was asked by the “Al-Fateh” coalition, to nominate Adel Abdel Mahdi as prime minister, and he complied.  One year later, Abdel Mahdi was asked by the Marjaiya in Najaf to resign in response to street demonstrations demanding reforms, necessary infrastructure and better job opportunities.
Soleimani met with Shia leaders who all agreed– with the exception of Hadi al-Ameri, who wanted to be the Prime Minister of Iraq – to nominate Qusay al-Suheil. Al-Fateh forwarded the name to President Barham Salih who refused to appoint al-Suheil and went to Erbil for a few days, enough time for the street to reject the nomination. It was Sayyed Moqtada al Sadr – who rejected the nomination of al Suheil – who then contacted President Saleh and informed him that he represented the largest coalition, called “Sairoon”. Saleh, who feared Moqtada’s reaction, sent a letter to the parliament and the constitutional court asking them to define the “largest coalition”. None managed to respond clearly to this request.
The Iraqi constitution’s definition of the “largest coalition” is elastic and subject to interpretation. President Barham Saleh maliciously threw this apple of discord between the parliament and the constitutional court. It was Nuri al-Maliki who in 2010 introduced a new definition of “large coalition” to beat Ayad Allawi, who had managed to gather 91 MPs and was eligible to form a government. Al-Maliki formed a broad coalition after the MPs took their oaths and established that he was leading the largest coalition, as defined by the final alliances formed after the parliamentary elections, rather than by the poll results.
President Salih told Soleimani that the Shia coalition was divided and that he was not in a position to decide. At the same time, Salih accommodated the Americans who saw that Soleimani’s candidates were failing to win consensual approval. Iran’s Shia allies were effectively contributing to the failure of Soleimani’s efforts to reach an agreement among Shia over a PM nominee.
By forwarding his resignation on November 29, 2019, to President Salih, Adil Abdel Mahdi made it clear he no longer wished return to power. On February 1, Salih nominated Mohamad Allawi on Moqtada al-Sadr’s demand. Moqtada was given the leading role in choosing a candidate following the US assassination of Soleimani at Baghdad’s airport. This leadership was agreed to in Tehran by General Ismail Qaaani, who believed Moqtada should lead all groups because he was the main instigator of the protests. Even if the people in the street no longer welcomed Moqtada, he remained the only one capable of clearing the road and allowing the formation of a new government. Iran’s priority was for the parliament and the government to concentrate on the withdrawal of all foreign forces, led by the US.
Mohammad Allawi failed to achieve a parliamentary quorum because he behaved condescendingly towards some of the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds. Allawi believed that Moqtada’s support was sufficient and that all the other groups and ethnicities would have to accept his choice of ministers. Allawi presented his resignation to Salih on March 2.
According to article 73/3 of the Iraqi constitution, the sole authority for nominating a prime minister belongs to the president, who has 15 days to select a candidate. However, President Salih gave the Shia 15 days to choose a candidate. A coalition of seven members representing all Shia groups was formed—they presented 17 candidates. Three names were offered: Naim al-Suheil, Mohamad al-Soudani and Adnan al-Zarfi. Naim al-Suheil received the most votes but was rejected by Faleh al-Fayad. 
Although al-Zarfi is a member of the al-Nasr party led by former PM Haidar Abadi (al-Nasr was formed in 2018), Nuri al-Maliki pushed hard for al-Zarfi (also a member of al-Da’wa party) and sent him to Beirut to convince the Lebanese to bless his nomination. Iran was against the designation of a US national (al-Zarfi holds a US passport). Confronted by Iran’s rejection, Al-Maliki managed to convince Moqtada al-Sadr to nominate al-Zarfi. Al-Maliki managed even if al-Zarfi was the one who fought against Jaish al-Mahdi – with US support – in Najaf in 2004, persecuted Moqtada in the city and expelled him to Baghdad. Moqtada al-Sadr – who recently refused any prime minister holding dual nationality – put his signature on the agreed paper offered to Salih along with Nuri al-Maliki, Haidar Abadi and Sayyed Ammar al-Hakim as per the newly claimed “largest coalition”.
It was a golden opportunity for Salih, with the absence of Soleimani, to please the Americans, the Kurds, the Sunni and a large group of Shia. Salih used his constitutional authority to nominate al-Zarfi as a prime minister. It will be a blow to Iran if al-Zarfi manages to form his government and present it to the parliament.  With the support of such a large coalition of Shia-Sunni-Kurdish MPs, he will no doubt reach the necessary quorum.
One of the main reasons Moqtada al-Sadr supported al-Zarif (apart from al-Zarif’s promise to satisfy Moqtada’s requests in the new cabinet) is the birth of a new group called “Osbat al-Thaereen” (the “Movement of the Revolutionary Association” – MRA). This group claimed twice its responsibility for bombing al-Taji military base where the US and other members of the coalition have a permanent presence. Sayyed Moqtada rejects any attacks on US forces and prefers acting through diplomatic channels (via the parliament). Many Iraqi groups close to Iran swore to seek the withdrawal of the US forces mainly due to the Pentagon’s refusal to discuss a full removal of troops. The US is only willing to relocate troops. Moreover, the US is reinforcing its presence in crucial bases in Iraq (K1, Ayn al-Assad and Erbil) and is about to bring the Patriot interception missile system to its bases in Iraq, without Iraqi government consent.
If al-Zarfi manages to get parliament approval, he may seek to avoid any withdrawal negotiations with the US. He would also merge Hashd al-Shaabi and attempt to disarm the Iraqi groups close to Iran. But al-Zarfi is not in a position to seek a change of the parliament’s decision related to the US withdrawal. That issue will concern the newly elected parliament. However, al-Zarfi, like any new prime minister, is expected to gather a large number of MPs in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, enough to seek the prolonged presence of the US forces in Iraq.
Osbat al-Thaereen warned the US forces in Iraq.
This scenario is only applicable if al-Zarfi manages to reach the parliament in 30 days with a new cabinet and to retain his allies, notably the Shia. Iran will do everything possible to make things difficult for al-Zarfi. The ex-governor of Najaf was accused of burning the two Iranian consulates in Karbala and Najaf last year and is expected to follow the path of his al-Nasr coalition leader (former PM Abadi) in respecting US sanctions on Iran. That would be devastating to Iran’s economy, already suffering from the harshest US sanctions ever.
Al-Zarfi as prime minister will be a major blow to Iran and to those who support its objectives and ideology in Iraq. The coronavirus will not keep Iran away from the Iraqi theatre; Iran will not allow Iraq to fall under US control. If al-Zarfi comes to power, the stability of Iraq will be shaken, and partition will be back on the table. An era of instability can be expected in Mesopotamia under an Iraqi prime minister considered to be an ally of the US, particularly following the assassination of Qassem Soleimani.
Proofread by:  C.G.B
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