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The head of Hamas’ foreign political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, expressed his movement’s thanks to the Jordanian army and clans for their stance on the “fights in Palestine and Jerusalem.”

“Jordan is the twin of geography and demography and brother of the soul, and together we will make a bright and victorious future,” Mishaal said, during his participation in a festival entitled “Resistance through Liberation” held by Jordanian parties in the Tabarbour area in Amman in support of the Palestinian people.

Meshaal, during a speech broadcast during the festival, thanked the various parties participating in the festival in support of the Palestinian people.

Addressing the Jordanian people, he said, “I know your originality and merit, and I especially thank the tribes of Jordan who have an honorable record in the battles of Palestine, the walls of Jerusalem, the Jordanian army, the Jordanian public, and the official and popular Jordan who will win together and with us and we will win it and our nation after the help of God Almighty.”

Meshaal added that he was astonished by the interaction of the Jordanian people with the Palestinian people in the past days, from northern Jordan to its south.

Meshaal added, “We want to preserve the Hashemite custody of Jerusalem, and the interest of Jordan is the interest of Palestine.”

Source: “The Kingdom” + “Tomorrow”

Arabic and international

Tunisians elect weakened parliament on 11% turnout

Tunisia announced that a mere 11 percent of the electorate had voted on Sunday in parliamentary runoffs, with critics of President Kais Saied saying the empty polling stations were evidence of public disdain for his agenda and seizure of powers.

The head of the electoral commission, over which Saied assumed ultimate authority last year, gave a provisional turnout of 11.3 percent for Sunday’s runoff votes.

During December’s first round, the official turnout was only slightly lower, at 11.2 percent.

“Today Tunisians issued a final verdict rejecting Kais Saied’s process and elections,” Nejib Chebbi, head of the main opposition coalition, the Salvation Front, told a news conference.

Economic decline in Tunisia, where some basic goods have disappeared from shelves and the government has cut subsidies as it seeks a foreign bailout to avert bankruptcy, has left many disillusioned with politics and angry with their leaders.

“We don’t want elections. We want milk and sugar and cooking oil,” said Hasna, a woman shopping in the Ettadamon district of Tunis on Sunday.

The newly configured parliament has had its role shrunk as part of a political system Saied introduced last year after a power grab in 2021 that grants the presidency nearly absolute power.

About 887,000 voters cast ballots from a total electorate of 7.8 million, the electoral commission said. Final results were not expected on Sunday. The main parties boycotted the vote and most seats are expected to go to independents.

“I’m not interested in elections that do not concern me,” said Nejib Sahli, 40, passing a polling station in the Hay Ettahrir district of Tunis.

Independent observers, including the local Mourakiboun group, have questioned official turnout figures, accusing authorities in many districts of withholding data they rely on to monitor the election’s integrity.

The commission denied this and said polling station officials had been too busy to cooperate with monitors.

Opposition groups have accused Saied of a coup for shutting down the previous parliament in 2021, and say he has trashed the democracy built after Tunisia’s 2011 revolution — which triggered the “Arab Spring.”

Saied has said his actions were both legal and necessary to save Tunisia from years of corruption and economic decline at the hands of a self-interested political elite.

Though his new constitution passed in a referendum last year, only 30 percent of voters took part.

Opposition activist Chaima Issa, who has led protests against Saied and faces a military court on charges of insulting the president, described the poll as a “ghost election.”

At one polling station in the Ettadamon district of Tunis, no voters attended during the 20 minutes a Reuters journalist spent there.

At another Ettadamon polling station, one voter who gave his name as Ridha said he was supporting Saied: “He is a clean man fighting a corrupt system.”

In a cafe in Ettahrir, another district of the capital, only one of seven men sitting drinking coffee said he might vote.

Another man in the cafe, who gave his name only as Imad, said he did not believe his vote mattered after Saied’s political changes.

“The president alone is deciding everything,” he said. “He does not care about anybody and we do not care about him and his elections.”

Many Tunisians appeared initially to welcome Saied’s seizure of powers in 2021 after years of weak governing coalitions that seemed unable to revive a moribund economy, improve public services or reduce stark inequalities.

But Saied has voiced no clear economic agenda except to rail against corruption and unnamed speculators, whom he has blamed for rising prices.

On Friday, Moody’s credit ratings agency downgraded Tunisia’s debt, saying it would likely default on sovereign loans.

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Arabic and international

Yemen crisis: WFP gives Marib’s displaced fewer, lighter food packets

The World Food Programme in Yemen has lowered the quantity and weight of humanitarian supplies to thousands of internally displaced Yemenis in the central city of Marib, despite the severe winter and ongoing influx of displaced persons, local authorities and impacted individuals told Arab News on Sunday.

Khaled Al-Shajani, deputy head of the internationally recognized government’s executive unit for camps for the internally displaced in Marib, said that the WFP had reduced the number of food boxes sent each month to more than 70,000 displaced persons in Marib from 75kg to 25kg for each family, and they are now distributed every two months instead of each month.

“Marib’s displaced population receives six food baskets yearly instead of twelve. The humanitarian aid has dropped despite the enormous demands,” Al-Shajani said.

The displaced people have not received their normal food basket for the previous four months, according to the Yemeni official, and the international organization is tying the provision of food with its ongoing survey to validate the names of the needy individuals.

“We told them not to relate the evaluation to the food baskets. People have not gotten their food baskets for two consecutive periods (each period is two months) despite the availability of the baskets in their warehouses, and part of the food has gone bad,” Al-Shajani said.

He stated that in addition to the 70,000 displaced people in Marib who receive humanitarian assistance, 56,000 displaced families have applied for food baskets, and this number is expected to rise due to the deteriorating humanitarian situation, the winter, and the ongoing influx of displaced people.

Due to its relative tranquility and security since the first day of the war, Marib is now sheltering 2,222,530 displaced individuals who have left their home regions and towns due to conflict or persecution by the Iran-backed Houthis, making it the city with the highest concentration of internally displaced people in the country, according to the official IDP camp administration unit.

Affected displaced persons in Marib have urged the WFP and other international aid groups to provide humanitarian supplies on a monthly basis and to increase the number of baskets, predicting widespread starvation if help does not come immediately.

Ali, a father of four who was displaced from Houthi-held Dhamar in 2017, told Arab News by phone from Marib that he has not received his regular food basket from the WFP for the past four months, forcing him to go into debt.

He also asked local grocery owners to sell him food with the promise of paying later in order to feed his family.

“There are no wages or other sources of cash for my family other than this food basket. We often miss meals due to a lack of food,” Ali, who preferred to be identified by his first name, said.

The Yemen office of the WFP did not reply to Arab News’ calls or emails for a comment on the decrease of supplies to displaced people.

International relief groups working in Yemen often attribute their cutbacks in food boxes and other humanitarian operations to a lack of cash from international donors.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said last week that it needs $4.3 billion to support the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen, which is intended to provide humanitarian relief to 17.3 of Yemen’s most destitute people.

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Arabic and international

Turkiye’s Erdogan signals Finland’s NATO bid may be considered over Sweden

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan signalled on Sunday that Ankara may agree to Finland joining NATO ahead of Sweden, amid growing tensions with Stockholm.

“We may deliver Finland a different message (on their NATO application) and Sweden would be shocked when they see our message. But Finland should not make the same mistake Sweden did,” Erdogan said in a televised speech aired on Sunday.

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join NATO following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and need all member countries’ approval to join. Turkiye and Hungary are yet to ratify the Nordic countries’ membership.

Turkiye says Sweden, in particular, harbors what Ankara says are militants from the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984.

“We gave Sweden a list of 120 persons and told them to extradite those terrorists in their country. If you don’t extradite them, then sorry about that,” Erdogan said, referring to Turkiye’s agreement with Sweden and Finland last June over their NATO application.

Turkiye suspended NATO talks with Sweden and Finland last week after a protest in Stockholm in which a far-right politician burned a copy of the Qur’an.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said his country wanted to restore NATO dialogue with Turkiye, but Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday it was meaningless to restart talks.

Cavusoglu also said there was “no offer to evaluate Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership separately.”

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