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Anti-lockdown protesters rally in Tel Aviv as 2nd nationwide quarantine looms over Israel

Monitoring Desk

TEL AVIV: Hundreds have occupied the streets of central Tel Aviv overnight to vent anger at a stringent second lockdown that will dramatically restrict people’s mobility, shut down most businesses and enforce social distancing rules.

Numbering hundreds, the anti-lockdown rally kicked off in Tel Aviv on Thursday – not long after the government rolled out a set of measures on a second Covid-19 shutdown. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted the move was necessary as hospitals “raised the red flag” after a drastic surge in fresh Covid-19 cases.

Many protesters were clearly upset by the prospect of living under another lockdown that will make them stick to a 500-meter radius around their homes, ban gatherings of more than 10 people inside, and effectively shutter schools, restaurants, shopping malls and other public places.

 “The shutdown is in order to turn us into submissive, suppressed sheep,” a protester named Dikla told RT’s Ruptly video agency. The quarantine measures are “to try to break us down,” she exclaimed.

The protesters displayed placards and banners denouncing the lockdown and insisting the coronavirus measures have been an over-reaction.

Others who joined the protest said the Israelis had “really had enough.” People are waking up to a situation in which everyone is “just going to be begging for some kind of vaccine,” said another protester. “But we’re aware of that right now, and we’re not going to be taking any vaccine,” she added.

Israel has reported over 175,200 cases and more than 1,160 deaths, with officials concerned that the mortality rate could surge as new infections have risen recently above 5,000 per day.

That aside, authorities fear that the coronavirus could spread on the heels of the Jewish High Holy Day period during which families and friends normally gather indoors. The new set of rules mandates that “going to prayers, even during the holidays, is subject to the 500-meter rule.”

Courtesy: (RT)

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Libyan protests, government manifesto and future

IMAD ATOUI – RANIA KHALOUTA

Libya currently has a tricky political landscape due to the recent cease-fire announcement. The cease-fire call, announced by head of the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez Sarraj opened doors to both parliamentary and presidential elections in March. Though the cease-fire announcement was welcomed by some local and external actors, the political cells that had seemingly vanished took the opportunity and brought out their hidden agendas and future political plans.

What happened in Tripoli was quite expected. The intense conflict between local enemies, backed by external powers, would have never ended up as peacefully as the media portrayed. On top of geographic diversity and ethnic differences that separated the east and the west, the political divergence created a bloody divide between the GNA and the western wing of Tobruk with warlord Gen. Khalifa Haftar forces.

Even though the Libyan dilemma is due to external influence, the current turmoil in Tripoli is far from being an explicit dispute between external powers. Libya has been strategically important for world powers, but the coronavirus pandemic has curbed the offensive policies of these powers since their energies are being consumed back home in combating COVID-19.

This means that in any circumstances, external powers never take the risk of fighting one another on the ground. In other words, even if the GNA collapses to external involvements, there is unlikely to be a face-off between Russia backed by China against the United States alongside the European Union. So, how do we understand the Libyan protests and the move against the GNA?

Strategic points

In fact, the announcement of a cease-fire that stipulates the departure of foreign mercenaries will reduce the military presence of external players locally, if the Libyan political resolution does not work on external agendas at this critical time when there are potentially massive shifts taking place in the world order.

None of the major powers would take a risk in confronting its rivals unless it’s strategically sound. Libya is strategically important since it presents a checkpoint against rivals and a military barrack for the one who holds it.

For instance, the U.S. wants to maintain a connection between its fleet in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean through the Suez Canal to guarantee the line of military supplies from European countries in case of war.

Again, this is not enough if the U.S. does not hedge the Russians and control all maritime lines. The U.S. overcame the Soviet Union during the Cold War because Washington succeeded in containing and besieging the Russians in the Black Sea.

Two aspects

Therefore, what happened in Libya could have two different explanations. The first explanation is that the U.S., with its EU allies, seeks to shake the GNA and potentially risk the Turkish partnership with the GNA.

In other words, Turkey plays in the Mediterranean vacuum left between the U.S. and Russia. This will weaken the Turks who will be forced to respond to U.S. demands to prevent the Russians from using the Bosporus. This explanation clearly matches the written manifesto of the Libyan interior minister because it accuses the GNA authorities, instead of calming down the protests and maintaining the government.

The second explanation is that the happenings in Tripoli could have been crafted by Russia since its agent Haftar is ignored. This is because, after the division, the western Libyan wing, the Tobruk parliament headed by Aguila Saleh fell under the Western powers while Russia became unrepresented with its wanted agent Haftar.

Due to this, the Russians could have returned through a different figure that would supersede Haftar. Many Libyans expect Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to be this figure. There has to be a period of transition though for the new figure to be adopted as a political resolution for Libya.

If this happens, the Russians would aim to align with the Turks against the U.S. in the Mediterranean and other spheres where both the states’ interests coincide.

Both scenarios don’t need to involve either the Americans or the Russians. In fact, there could be a likely involvement of local actors that move from one bloc to another.

There could be actors with multiple alliances, whether these are regional or international but have influence in the region.

There are explanations that the Libyans want to oust Sarraj due to social and economic problems that the country experiences. Indeed, Libyans want a political resolution distant from external interference, and there has been an initiative taken by the GNA. But then, what would happen without the involvement of any external factors?

Courtesy: (Dailysabah)

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How much is Palestine worth?

HILAL KAPLAN

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Abdullatif al-Zayani, signed agreements in Washington to normalize their relations, announcing the moves through U.S. President Donald Trump. This was a turning point that heralded a new Middle East, no matter which side of the coin you look at.

It was no secret that the UAE cooperated with Israel, especially in security and software, after the 9/11 attacks. Before the agreement, the air force pilots of the two states even joined military exercises together in Greece. However, it is the first time that a public and transparent alliance has been developed and maintained in company with a positive public relations campaign within these countries. It is necessary to see that Arab-Israeli relations have now been completely removed from the stage of hostility and have evolved to the level of friendly alliances in a drastic U-turn.

Philip Weiss, editor-in-chief of Mondoweiss, a blog covering U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, published some important statements by Nimrod Novik, a member of the executive committee of Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS), on the Israel Policy Forum podcast, which we can consider as articulating the thoughts of Israel’s security structure as well. I would like to bring to your attention some remarkable parts of that analysis.

According to Novik, there is only one problem with the F-35s that the UAE wants from the U.S. in exchange for its agreement with Israel: “The only question is how to downgrade some of the aircraft’s systems so Israel will find that acceptable. Or how to provide Israel ‘with all kinds of antidotes’ to overcome the aircraft if it needed to.”

The most important evidence that Israel is looking at the new wave of normalization with optimistic caution is its insistence that the F-35s are kept at a level that cannot damage its fighter systems in any case. However, there are many countries that are considered to be in line for a series of “peace agreements” that will ultimately benefit the U.S. and Israel and ultimately harm Palestine.

What Novik said about these countries is striking:

“I hear the same rumors that everyone else does. The Sudanese want to get off the U.S. terrorist list. And I’m not sure that the U.S. is ready to do it. I don’t know … Each one has their own pet project, what they would get for normalizing with Israel. I would hope that some of them, if they do go there, would insist on a bonus in the Palestinian context. But right now, they are really each to its own interests.”

The wish of one of the senior bureaucrats supported by Israel is that Arab leaders demand something not only for themselves but also for the interest of Palestine. This portrays very accurately the pit that some Arab leaders are in. It seems the key question of the Arab-Israel alliance is “How much is Palestine worth,” and every country gives its own answer to Israel to shake hands with them on Palestinians’ blood-soaked soil.

Of course, Israel could not be the enemy of such infamy. Just think, even the requirement to withdraw from the occupied West Bank to normalize relations with Israel is not on the table, suspending settlements for show is enough – as long as business remains fine.

Israel is experiencing a purple patch in terms of Arab dictators. The fear of democratization that engulfed the rulers after the Arab Spring gave Israel exactly the chance for the “bromance” it was seeking. Most Arab leaders, under the coordination of UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ) and with the support of his prodigy, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), have been included in this design.

In the past, there were Arab leaders with either Islamic or anticolonialist ideological engagements, even if they were kings or dictators. Today, however, a majority is ready, who market their personal interests as national interests, who do not see any harm in massacring Arab peoples from Egypt to Yemen or from Syria to Libya, because they are afraid of the idea of a switch to a democratic order in the Middle East. They see everything with a price tag as required by capitalist morality and are willing to sell Palestine cheaply.

While Palestine has been the short-term loser of the Arab-Israeli alliance, what gains and losses will be incurred in the long term remain unclear.

Courtesy: (Dailysabah)

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Apple set to launch first online store in India

Monitoring Desk

NEW DELHI: Apple has announced that it will launch its first online store in India next week, as it seeks to increase sales in one of the world’s fastest-growing smartphone markets.

The company at present uses third-party online and offline retailers to sell its products in the country.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a tweet that the company “can’t wait to connect with our customers and expand support in India.”

Expanding market

The September 23 launch comes ahead of India’s major Hindu festival season beginning next month.

With a nearly 1.4 billion people, including millions of new Internet users every month, India has become a key focus of tech giants over the last few years.

In August, three contract manufacturers for Apple iPhones and South Korea’s Samsung applied for large-scale electronics manufacturing rights in India under a $6.5 billion incentive scheme announced by the government.

Apple assembles some smartphones at Foxconn and Wistron’s plants in two southern Indian states.

Courtesy: AP

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US Open champion Osaka withdraws from French Open

Monitoring Desk

TOKYO: Naomi Osaka, who captured her third Grand Slam title at the US Open on September 12, has pulled out of the upcoming French Open with a hamstring injury.

“Unfortunately I won’t be able to play the French Open this year,” Osaka said in posts on Instagram and Twitter. “My hamstring is still sore so I won’t have enough time to prepare for the clay – these two tournaments came too close to each other for me this year.”

The French Open is due to start on September 27 at Roland Garros, rescheduled from earlier in the year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday , Osaka rallied from a set down to beat Victoria Azarenka 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the US Open women’s final, adding a third major trophy after her victories at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open triumphs.

First Asian with three Grand Slams

The 22-year-old was the first woman to win the US Open singles final from a set down since 1994, and the victory moved her to third in the WTA rankings.

She also became the first Asian player to win three Grand Slams, overtaking China’s Li Na on two.

Osaka had gone into the US Open at Flushing Meadows with fitness concerns.

She pulled out of the WTA final of the We stern & Southern Open – also held this year at Flushing Meadows – with a left hamstring injury just two days before the start of the Grand Slam in New York.

She said she pulled the muscle in her semi-final victory.

Osaka played her US Open matches with her left thigh heavily strapped, but showed no sign the injury hindered her.

Pandemic break

The US Open, normally the final Grand Slam in a season, was just the second major to be played in 2020 after the Australian Open in January.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought tennis to a halt along with the rest of global sport, with Wimble don cancelled completely and Roland Garros moved from its usual May start to September 27-October 11.

Unlike the US Open, organisers at Roland Garros will admit fans, although it was announced Thursday that the number of spectators will be limited to 5,000 per day.

Organisers had originally hoped to accommodate 20,000 spectators per day.

Defending women’s champion Ashleigh Barty of Australia announced earlier this month that she would not defend her title because she feared participation still carried health risks and because she had not been able to train properly with her coach because of the state border closures in Australia.

Courtesy: AFP

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Hurricane Sally: US Gulf Coast braces for second round of flooding

Monitoring Desk

NEW YORK: Rescuers along the Gulf Coast have used high-water vehicles to reach people cut off by flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Sally, even as the region braced for a delayed, second round of floods in the coming days from rivers and creeks swollen by the storm’s heavy rains.

Across southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, homeowners and businesses began cleaning up, and officials inspected bridges and highways for safety, a day after Sally rolled through with winds up to 165 kph and 1 to 3 1/2 feet (0.3 to 1 metre) of rain in many places before it began to break up.

Its remnants continued to push deep inland with heavy downpours, threatening flooding across the South all the way to Virginia.

In hard-hit Pensacola and surrounding Escambia County, where Sally’s floodwaters had surged through downtown streets and lapped at car door handles on Wednesday before receding, authorities went door-to-door to check on residents and warn them they were not out of danger.

‘Not out of woods’

At least eight waterways in Alabama and the Panhandle were expected to hit major flood stage by Thursday. Forecasters warned that some could break records, submerge bridges and swamp homes.

“Please, please, we’re not out of the woods even if we’ve got beautiful skies today,” said Escambia County emergency manager Eric Gilmore.

Crews carried out at least 400 rescues in the Escambia County by such means as high-water vehicles, boats and water scooters, authorities said.

Rescuers focused their efforts Thursday on Innerarity Point, a narrow strip of land close to Pensacola that is home to waterfront homes and businesses. Floodwaters covered the only road out, though authorities said no one was in immediate danger.

Hundreds rescued

Richard Wittig and his family were among scores of people hemmed in by floodwaters on the island. Two generators were powering his house, fueled by 30 gallons of gasoline Wittig bought ahead of the storm.

“If I didn’t have a working generator, we’d be dead. Nobody can get to us,” said the 77-year-old Wittig, who said he and his son rely on oxygen machines to keep them alive.

The Florida National Guard said it had deployed about 500 soldiers and airmen to help local authorities evacuate 113 people, though it did not say when and where the rescues took place.

In Alabama, on both sides of Mobile Bay, National Guard soldiers from high-water evacuation teams used big trucks Thursday to rescue at least 35 people, authorities said.

About 56 kilometres inland, a swollen Murder Creek cut off access between the Alabama towns of Brewton and East Brewton, inundating a grocery store, a tobacco shop, a park and more. Residents behind a police roadblock gazed at the neighbouring city across fast-moving water covering a bridge.

“Mama, look. Water’s all the way up in here!” 11-year-old Rachana Matthews said.

East Brewton resident Brenda Davenport said it took only four hours for the water to rise. “It could take two days for it to go down,” she said.

Picking up soggy debris in her yard in Orange Beach, Alabama, Janice Sullivan swore she would never ride out a hurricane again. She and her daughter huddled in a second-floor bathroom as Sally blew ashore. The winds grew so violent Sullivan feared the roof would fly off.

“You could hear everything hitting the house,” she said. “You could hear the house moving back and forth. It was literally moaning and cracking.”

One killed in Alabama

At least one death, in Alabama, was blamed on the hurricane, and a half-million businesses were without electricity Thursday afternoon in Florida, Alabama and Georgia. A section of the main bridge between Pensacola and Pensacola Beach collapsed after it was hit by a barge that broke loose during the storm.

A few people cleaned up in Bristol Park, a creekside neighbourhood where as much as 4 feet (1.2 metres) of water-filled brick homes north of Pensacola.

Susan Cutts’ parents fled rising water inside their home into the garage, where they desperately called for help on a dying cellphone until aid arrived.

“They were on top of their car when they got to them,” Cutts said.

At a downtown marina, at least 30 sailboats, fishing boats and other vessels were found clumped together in a mass of fibreglass hulls and broken docks. Some boats rested atop sunken ones.

The hurricane also drove two large ferry boats into a concrete seawall and left them grounded. The boats had been purchased with BP oil spill money.

“This is kind of the initial salvo,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said of the hurricane’s onslaught, “but there is going to be more that you’re going to have to contend with.”

Meanwhile, Sally’s rainy remnants caused flooding in Georgia, closing streets and highways, and threatened more of the same on Friday in North Carolina and Virginia. Forecasters said Georgia could get up to a foot (30 centimetres), and South Carolina 10 inches (25 centimetres).

Courtesy: AP

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US condemns internet shutdowns in Belarus

F.P. Report

WASHINGTON: We, the signatories, are deeply troubled by and condemn the recently reported and ongoing use of partial and complete Internet shutdowns, as well as targeted content blocking, by the Government of Belarus in the aftermath of the fraudulent 2020 Belarusian presidential elections.

Shutdowns and blocking or filtering of services unjustifiably limit the rights of peaceful assembly and freedoms of association and expression, especially when they lack procedural fairness and transparency. In conjunction with restrictive measures and intimidation employed against opposition candidates and the mass arrests and detentions of Belarusian civil society members and journalists, actions to limit access to the Internet, including social media and other digital communication platforms, further erode civic space. We will continue to stand with the people of Belarus, who are making their voices heard in spite of these oppressive measures, and we are especially heartened by the critical and central role women are playing in calling for fairness and accountability.

Civic space online is integral to a vibrant civic space off-line. Governments should not block or hinder Internet connectivity, as shutdowns often undermine human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights of peaceful assembly and freedoms of association and expression that form the basis of a democratic society. Internet shutdowns impact all users, especially marginalized groups and those in vulnerable situations. Shutdowns limit media freedom and the ability of journalists and human rights defenders to report on human rights violations or abuses and hold governments accountable. Shutdowns and restrictions also limit the dissemination and free flow of information, harm economic activity, contribute to social and political disorder, and negatively affect public safety.

Human rights must be protected online just as they are protected off-line. We call on Belarusian authorities to refrain from Internet shutdowns and blocking or filtering of services and to respect Belarus’s international human rights obligations, including under articles 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We call on the Government of Belarus to respect civic space, including respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law.

Independent, transparent and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations in the context of the election must be conducted and the perpetrators brought to justice.

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Exploring Yazılıkaya, remnants of Phrygian city of Midas

Monitoring Desk

ISTANBUL: Anatolia abounds with historical sites and natural wonders. Some are known worldwide while many others await discovery. This week in this travel series, we’ll explore Yazılıkaya, also known as the ancient city of Midas, and the old Phrygian ruins scattered around it

Anatolia, or Asia Minor, is often called the “cradle of civilizations.” It is among the most archaic and diverse lands on Earth in terms of history and culture. Many prominent contributors to our common heritage, from the Hittites and the Romans to the Ottomans to Byzantines, inhabited Anatolian soil and left a testimony of their unique ways in the form of artifacts and breathtaking ruins you’ll find in every nook and corner of the region.

This week, I want to delve into Yazılıkaya, built by the Phrygians, the forefathers of Anatolia, who left a glorious legacy and spectacular ancient ruins that are among the most well-preserved in Turkey, despite being thousands of years old. Yazılıkaya is located near Yazılıkaya village, which is a part of Han district in the northwestern province of Eskişehir.

So, grab your tea or coffee and take a historical trip back in time to the ancient Phrygian era to discover what gems it beholds.

Both the ancient settlement and the monument are named Yazılıkaya, or sometimes, the ancient city of Midas. Locals named it Yazılıkaya (meaning the rock with writing on it) due to the inscriptions in the ancient Phrygian language on the monument. Midas is more of an official historical name granted to the site and the monument, after the word “Midai” was discovered engraved on the monument, describing the region.

Evidence garnered during archaeological excavations suggests that the earliest human activity in the area dates to 3,000 B.C. Fast forward to more than two millennia later to the last quarter of the eighth century B.C., the Phrygians nestled themselves in Yazılıkaya Valley.

Archaeological research has established that Yazılıkaya currently boasts the highest number of religious monuments and structures discovered in the Phrygian civilization and was one of the most important religious centers of the kingdom at the time.

One intriguing historical fact about Yazılıkaya is that the settlement was not abandoned following the collapse of the Phrygian Kingdom. On the contrary, countless additions were made to the existing structures and monuments by the successors of the city during the Hellenistic, Persian, Roman and Byzantine eras.

Yazılıkaya

Seventeen meters (55.8 feet) tall and 16.5 meters wide, the Midas Monument, also known as the Grand Monument, in Yazılıkaya is the largest Phrygian rock-cut monument ever discovered. It is the first and a rather glorious sight that welcomes you as you enter Yazılıkaya Valley.

The flat ground looking up at the monument was used as an open-air temple by the Phrygians and was built in the name of the Mother Goddess (Magna Matar) Kubileya (Greek: Cybele). Not to be missed are some surviving inscriptions carved in the Phrygian language on the upper left section of the monument, which is easily discernable to those looking up to it from below. You’ll have to lean back your head to get a good look, but it’s definitely worth it.

Kırkgöz Rock

Only a few steps away to the right side of the Midas Monument, the Kırkgöz Rock consists of chambers that were carved into one huge boulder. It is named as such since the rooms carved inside the boulder make it appear as if it has dozens of eyes, with Kırkgöz meaning “40 eyes” in Turkish. This structure was first built during Hellenistic times, then used by the Romans and Byzantines.

Tragically, the rooms are severely damaged from vandalism. The plaster covering the walls of the rooms are carved with the names of lovers and random figures using knives and sharp objects.

On the eastern side of Kırkgöz Rock, there is a rock-cut tomb dating back to the Hellenistic era.

Unfinished Monument

Another notable site in Yazılıkaya Valley is the Unfinished Monument. You may notice architectural similarities between the Midas Monument and the Unfinished Monument as it was built with the intention of being a smaller version of it. It was built using a unique carving system, in which the surface of the rock was first flattened and then builders worked from top to bottom, carving designs and inscriptions. It was left unfinished halfway, which is why it has been a great source of insight for archaeologists who have been able to acquire an understanding of the ancient rock carving techniques used by the Phrygians to build monuments.

Monumental tomb

After the Unfinished Monument, the path soon bifurcates. If you go right, you will find the Monumental Tomb carved into the base of the side of the cliff. It may be easy to miss as it is underground, so look out for a signboard. It is a small chamber with a small window, blocked from the entry with iron bars. The ceiling and the walls of the chamber have a well-preserved design.

Cisterns

Besides the Midas Monument, some of the most marvelous structures for me were the deep cisterns located in different parts of Yazılıkaya Valley.

There are three very big cisterns located along the path that goes forth from the Midas Monument. These were the main sources of water for the ancient settlement back in the Phrygian era.

Over the centuries, the rock-cut staircases going down to the cisterns have eroded significantly and are now mostly covered with slippery algae. As such, I strongly suggest that you don’t try going down them as it can be dangerous. Admittedly, I almost lost my balance and nearly injured myself doing so. You’ll find the first cistern right after the Midas Monument. The other two are at the very end of the path, after the Monumental Tomb. On the right side of the Monumental Tomb, you will see a narrow path going onward. The path will take you to the final two cisterns.

The third cistern can be entered safely. The stairs are still well-shaped, and since it is located underground, the cistern is like a natural refrigerator. This felt like nature’s gift to me as it was a much-needed refuge from the heat.

Altar

Where the path bifurcates, take the path to the left and you will find yourself going up a hill. What awaits you is an ancient altar, offering a beautiful view of Yazılıkaya Valley. Except for a few rock-carved stairs, not much has survived the times. However, the view is worth a visit.

Conversations with locals

Locals always have insightful and unique stories to tell about the region. As I was exploring Kırkgöz Rock, I saw a local sitting on a pillow near one of the rooms. As it turned out, his name was Veysel Bey, and he was the guard looking after the monument. A 30-minute conversation with him revealed many interesting things about the area.

Here are his words: “We, the residents of Yazılıkaya village, are the Karaçay (Karachay) Turks. We are natives to The Caucasus. We migrated all the way from Caucasia to Eskişehir more than a hundred years ago. We are the inhabitants of this area and guard this ancient valley. Before me, my dad was protecting this place, and before him, my grandfather was doing the same.”

Moreover, Veysel Bey pointed out a deep hole by Kırkgöz Rock and told me that a cool draft blows from the hole. He pointed toward a few hills on the horizon where, he claimed, lie the ruins of an old Phrygian castle. The draft coming from the hole alludes to the possibility that underground tunnels exist that connect various parts of the region and extend beneath the hills for kilometers. He said that while this has never been investigated by archaeologists, it is common knowledge among the locals.

Quick snack break

Hot and hungry after the hike, I made my way to a small cafe, near the entrance of Yazılıkaya to grab a snack. Little did I expect that my visit would result in me tasting authentic Karaçay Turkish cuisine.

Run by local Karachays in the village, this cozy cafe is built in a quaint wooden hut. I was welcomed warmly by the owner, Cevdet Bey, who I found to be very friendly and hospitable. Cevdet Bey and his mother showed me the treats they had, which included homemade pastries and cheeses, and briefly described the history of their cuisine.

I was told to try hıçın böreği, which is a local flatbread filled with cheese, potatoes, minced meat or green vegetables. Typical Turkish pastries can have a high-fat content. What sets hıçın böreği apart from the others is that it is prepared without a drop of oil. It is steamed and is super light and delicious.

There are three easily accessible attractions near Yazılıkaya that I visited: Yapıldak Asar Kale, Arezastin Monument (also known as Little Yazılıkaya due to their architectural similarities) and the Gerdekkaya Monument. I do not recommend that you drive to the other surrounding historical spots due to the bad road conditions unless you have a suitable vehicle.

Yapıldak Asar Kale

A short drive from Yazılıkaya village, Yapıldak Asar Kale is a small monumental chamber carved on the top of a rock that requires a somewhat challenging 10-minute climb. You can get there by following the signboards from Yazılıkaya village. You will need to park your car by the side of the road and cross a small patch of field to reach it.

Arezastin Monument (Little Yazılıkaya)

Arezastin Monument is only a four-minute drive from Yazılıkaya village. It is a smaller replica of the larger Yazılıkaya Monument, located on the left side of the road going northward of Yazılıkaya village.

Gerdekkaya Monumental Tomb

Gerdekkaya Monumental Tomb comes after the Arezastin Monument. The tomb dates back to between the first century and the third century B.C. during the Hellenistic era. Consisting of two grave chambers, the Gerdekkaya Monumental Tomb was also used by the Romans and Byzantines.

Public transportation to the village

There is no public transportation going to Yazılıkaya. The ancient settlement is located 71 kilometers (a 1 hour, 10-minute drive) from central Eskişehir. Whether it’s winter or summer, you”have to reward yourself with a nice road trip to Yazılıkaya and wander around the stunning Phrygian ruins.

Courtesy: (Dailysabah)

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US President Trump plans executive order to punish arms trade with Iran – sources

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump plans to issue an executive order allowing him to impose U.S. sanctions on anyone who violates a conventional arms embargo against Iran, four sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the executive order was expected to be issued in the coming days and would allow the president to punish violators with secondary sanctions, depriving them of access to the U.S. market.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The proximate cause for the U.S. action is the impending expiry of a U.N. arms embargo on Iran and to warn foreign actors – U.S. entities are already barred from such trade – that if they buy or sell arms to Iran they will face U.S. sanctions.

Under the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran struck with six major powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States – the U.N. conventional arms embargo is to set to expire on Oct. 18, shortly before the Nov. 3 U.S. election.

The United States, which abandoned the nuclear deal in May 2018, says it has triggered a “snap back,” or resumption, of all U.N. sanctions on Iran, including the arms embargo, which would take effect at 8 p.m. on Saturday night or 0000 GMT on Sunday.

Other parties to the nuclear deal and most of the U.N. Security Council have said they do not believe the United States has the right to reimpose the U.N. sanctions and that the U.S. move at the United Nations has no legal effect.

“It is obvious that none of the Security Council members have accepted the eligibility of U.S. claims,” said Alireza Miryousefi, spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations, adding that the nuclear deal remains in place and all sanctions on Iran will be lifted in under the time-lines agreed in 2015.

Trump’s executive order is intended to show that the United States will not be deterred despite failing to win broader U.N. Security Council backing “snap back,” said one of the four sources.

Another of the sources, a European diplomat, said the new executive order would put teeth behind Washington’s assertion that the U.N. arms embargo would remain in place beyond October by giving the president secondary sanctions authority to punish arms transfers to or from Iran with U.S. sanctions.

Secondary sanctions are those where one country seeks to punish a second country for trading with a third by barring access to its own market, a particularly powerful tool for the United States because of the size of its economy.

Most foreign companies do not wish to risk being excluded from the vast U.S. market in order to trade with smaller countries such as Iran.

The new executive order may be more symbolic than practical because so many Iranian entities and individuals are already subject to secondary sanctions, said one sanctions lawyer, Doug Jacobson.

“It’s essentially piling on,” Jacobson said. “It’s designed to send a message on this particular issue … that the U.S. is unhappy that the other parties (to the Iran nuclear deal) did not agree to a snap back of arms sanctions.”

Speaking on Wednesday, U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela and Iran, Elliott Abrams, said Washington planned to impose sanctions on those who violated the U.N. arms embargo, though he did not say it would do so with an executive order.

Also on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo obliquely hinted at the upcoming U.S. action by stressing the power of U.S. sanctions restored since it abandoned the Iran nuclear deal two years ago to deter foreign trade with Iran.

“We’ll do all the things we need to do to ensure that those sanctions are enforced,” Pompeo said of the U.N. arms embargo, recalling many experts argued U.S. unilateral sanctions imposed after it abandoned the nuclear deal would fail.

“We’ve been very successful in spite of what the world said would happen,” he added, saying U.S. sanctions had drastically reduced Iran’s financial resources.

Courtesy: (Reuters)

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Motorway rape incident: Prime suspect flees again after dodging police

F.P. Report

NANKANA SAHIB: The prime suspect in Motorway rape incident Abid Ali once again managed to avoid being arrested and fled from the area after dodging police in Nankana Sahib on late Thursday night.

According to police sources, Abid Ali came to the house of his sister-in-law in Nankana Sahib in the afternoon. On getting information, police cordoned off the area but Abid Ali managed to escape.

It is pertinent to mention here that it was fourth occasion in the past 10 days when Abid, the prime suspect in Motorway rape incident, evaded police and managed to escape.

Earlier on Wednesday, Abid managed to avoid being arrested when a heavy contingent of police and other law enforcement agencies conducted a raid in Raja Jang area of Kasur.

According to sources, the police had received information about the arrival of Abid Malhi in Raja Jang area in Kasur. The accused came in the area but on suspicion of police presence fled into the fields.

A heavy contingent of police personnel conducted a search operation for five hours but the accused managed to escape from there. However, police had arrested five relatives of Abid from Kasur for interrogation.

Sources privy to the matter have informed that Abid Ali’s ID card has been blocked. The police have maintained that the step is taken in order to stop the accused from fleeing abroad.

On the other hand, statement of the affected woman has also not been recorded as yet and special team is formed in this regard which will contact the victim. The police have stated that the woman’s statement is legally very important in the case.

On September 9, 2020, a woman along with two children was reportedly travelling in a car from Lahore to Gujranwala when her car developed a fault on the motorway near Gujjarpura area of Lahore.

She was waiting for some help to arrive when two unidentified persons overpowered her. After raping and robbing the victim of valuables and cash (1 lakh), the suspects escaped from the scene.