Millions of dollars belonging to Saddam Hussein and members of his government are still reportedly held by Lebanese banks (AFP)
Lebanon thwarts gang trying to steal Saddam Hussein’s fortune
The Lebanese security services have detained a group plotting to seize billions of dollars belonging to deceased former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his associates, according to the London-based newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi.
In a coordinated sting with Iraqi security services, Lebanon uncovered a scheme in which the gang was seeking to convince Lebanese banks, in which Saddam’s government had deposited large sums of money in 1999, to transfer the money over to them.
The would-be thieves had forged documents to claim the identities of a number of missing or dead individuals linked to Saddam – who was overthrown by US forces in 2003 and executed in 2006 – and under whose names the bank accounts were registered.
Two thirds of Jordanian expatriates are working in Saudi Arabia
A recent study carried out about expatriates in the Gulf States revealed that more than 61 percent of Jordanian expatriates are working in Saudi Arabia, according to Jordanian newspaper Assabeel.
Another 14 percent are working in the UAE, and 12.5 percent more are based in Qatar, the study reported.
Approximately 430,000 out of 945,000 Jordanian expatriates reside in Saudi Arabia. However, barely a month after the Gulf kingdom imposed a tax on companies that hire overseas workers, the status of Jordanian workers abroad is under threat.
“All these measures have a significant impact on Jordanians, although some expatriates in the Gulf countries prefer to work there rather than return to Jordan as a result of the difference between wages. For example, the Jordanian expatriate in the UAE, gets about 4,000 dollars [per month], while Jordan’s average per capita income is only 600 dollars,” according to Assabeel.
Hamas rejects UN envoy proposal to ‘defuse’ Gaza crisis
United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, has visited the Gaza Strip several times in recent weeks to meet with the Hamas leadership, knowledgeable Palestinian sources reportedly told Arabi21.
According to the unnamed sources, Mladenov has asked that “the Palestinian factions not react to the occupation’s violations and to try to defuse the crisis, which could become the root of a new war”.
The sources said that Mladenov had offered that the recent tightening of the Israeli-led siege on the Gaza Strip be reversed – by restoring previous levels of activity at some crossings; reinstating the designated fishing zone to nine nautical miles from three currently; supplying Gaza’s only power station with fuel; and improving the salaries of Palestinian Authority (PA) employees.
In exchange, Mladenov called for reimplementing of the 2014 truce agreement, putting a definitive end to incendiary kites and balloons, and keeping protests 200 to 700 meters away from the line of separation between Gaza and Israel.
However, the factions reportedly told the UN envoy that they were committed to the principle of “shelling for shelling” – or “an eye for an eye”.
Hamas submitted its own demands to Mladenov, which included the complete and permanent opening of all crossings, the return of the fishing area to 12 nautical miles, an end to sanctions imposed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas with international guarantees, payrolls for the PA’s Gaza employees, as well as a guarantee that humanitarian relief in the beleaguered Palestinian territory be separated from the issue of Israelis held by Hamas, according to Arabi21.
10,000 Algerians residing in France illegally
A report by the French Senate has revealed that more than 10,000 Algerians are living in France without proper documentation, Algerian daily newspaper Achorouk al-Yawmi reported.
The parliamentary report pegged Algeria at the top of the list of the non-cooperative countries on the issue of undocumented immigration, stating that the North African country had only issued 45 percent of the consular passports requested by the French authorities in 2017 to deport undocumented migrants from French territory.
The report also ranked countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Mali among the least cooperative countries.
The report called for an amendment to the immigration law in order to “reduce the number of visas granted to the least cooperative countries in the context of illegal immigration that hinder the expulsion of its citizens by refusing to issue consular passports to enable them to return home”.
*Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.