- Tunisians in Second Day of Protest Against Saudi’s Prince Salman
Tunisians for the second day staged protests against Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, denouncing the kingdom’s de facto ruler as a murderer involved in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The protests were a rare occurrence for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who faces no overt criticism at home and who received a lavish reception earlier in his tour in visits to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.
Since the 2011 “Arab spring” uprising, which unseated entrenched rulers in the region and triggered turmoil, Tunisia has undergone a democratic transition and is one of the few Arab countries to allow protests.
Hundreds of protesters marched through the central Habib Bourguiba avenue in Tunis, scene of the mass protests that toppled the country’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, on the second day of demonstrations against the Saudi prince who was expected to arrive in late afternoon.
They chanted “the murderer is not welcome in Tunisia” and “Shame on Tunisia’s rulers” for receiving bin Salman.
The killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of the crown prince, at Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul six weeks ago has strained Saudi Arabia’s ties with the West and battered Prince Mohammed’s image abroad.
Saudi Arabia has said the prince, heir to the throne of the world’s top oil exporter, had no prior knowledge of the murder.
After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh said last month that Khashoggi had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
Protesters raised a large poster which depicted the Tunisian president pouring water on the bloodied hands of the Saudi crown prince – suggesting Tunisia’s complicity in washing away guilt.
Protesters also called for an end to the Saudi-led military campaign in neighbouring Yemen, which was launched by Prince Mohammed in his role as defence minister in 2015.
The protests were in sharp contrast with earlier parts of his tour of allied countries in the region.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi underscored the strength of ties between the two countries, and called Saudia Arabia’s security and stability “an inseparable part of Egypt’s national security.”
Journalists on Monday put up a huge banner at their union showing the prince with a saw, which Turkish sources have said was used to dismember Khashoggi in Istanbul. It read: “No to the pollution of the Tunisian revolution.”
Dozens of Tunisian rights activists and journalists staged a similar protest on Monday.
In an apparent attempt to avoid embarrassing the prince, the presidency only invited photographers to cover his visit. It will not hold a news conference, a usual event at top visits.
Last week Nourredine Ben Ticha, adviser to Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi, said the truth about the killing of the Saudi journalist needed to be established but the incident should not be used to harm the kingdom’s stability.
Tunisia and Saudi Arabia are very different political systems. The kingdom is an absolute monarchy while Tunisia has been holding free elections since 2011 and agreed three years later on a constitution guaranteeing fundamental rights.
Tunisia was a strong Saudi ally under Ben Ali but ties have since been strained at times. The kingdom granted exile to Ben Ali who flew to Jeddah on the Red Sea after his ousting, resisting calls by some Tunisian parties to hand him over.
Another irritant is that moderate Islamists have been sharing power with secularists in Tunisia since 2011. Some critics have likened the Tunisian Ennahda party to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in Saudi Arabia.
In contrast, Tunisia has since 2011 expanded cooperation with Qatar, with which Saudi Arabia and three other Arab states severed trade and transport ties in June 2017. The four accused Doha of supporting terrorism and Iran — charges Doha denies.
Tunisia also has strong ties with Turkey, whose relations with Saudi Arabia have been strained by the Khashoggi killing.
The prince is expected to fly on to a G20 summit in Argentina at the end of his Tunisia visit.
China and EU Seek Partnership: Xi Jinping Proposes Key Trade Alliance
Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his desire for China and the European Union (EU) to become key trade partners and foster trust in supply chains, during a meeting with EU leaders in Beijing.
The talks marked the first in-person summit between the two sides in four years and addressed a range of economic concerns, including data flows and market access.
Xi emphasized China’s commitment to high-quality development and opening up, positioning the EU as a crucial partner in economic and trade cooperation.
He envisioned the EU as a trusted collaborator in industrial and supply chain cooperation, aiming for mutual benefits and win-win results.
The summit delved into longstanding issues, such as efforts by Europe to “de-risk” its supply chains and the EU’s anti-subsidies investigation into Chinese-made electric vehicles.
China criticized the investigation, urging the EU to avoid using it for “trade protectionism.”
Xi called for the elimination of interference between China and the EU, a statement likely directed at the United States, which has taken actions, including enlisting the Netherlands, to curb China’s development of high-end semiconductors.
The EU leaders, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, described their conversation with Xi as “good and candid.”
They discussed the main challenges amid increasing geopolitical frictions, emphasizing a commitment to balanced trade relations and pledging to enhance people-to-people exchanges.
During the meeting, Italy formally informed China of its exit from the Belt and Road Initiative, highlighting ongoing strains between the EU and China.
Xi discussed Belt and Road with EU leaders, expressing a willingness to connect it with the EU’s Global Gateway infrastructure plan.
However, deep issues remain, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, trade imbalances, and Chinese overcapacity exported to Europe.
Jens Eskelund, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, stressed the need to address these issues to foster a positive relationship between Beijing and Brussels.
UAE Commits $30 Billion as COP28 Climate Talks Kick Off in Dubai
Nigeria Eyes BRICS Membership within Two Years as Foreign Minister Emphasizes Strategic Alignment
In a strategic move towards global economic collaboration, Nigeria is aspiring to join the BRICS group of nations within the next two years.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, affirmed that Nigeria is open to aligning itself with groups that demonstrate good intentions, well-meaning goals, and clearly defined objectives.
Tuggar stated, “Nigeria has come of age to decide for itself who her partners should be and where they should be; being multiple aligned is in our best interest.”
He emphasized the need for Nigeria to be part of influential groups like BRICS and the G-20, citing criteria such as population and economy size that position Nigeria as a natural candidate.
BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, stands as a formidable bloc of emerging market powers.
In a recent move to expand its influence, BRICS invited six additional nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates, to join the group.
Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, has been absent from the BRICS alliance, prompting discussions on the potential economic and political advantages the bloc could offer the country.
Analysts have noted that BRICS membership could provide Nigeria with significant leverage on the global stage.
Vice President Kashim Shettima clarified that Nigeria did not apply for BRICS membership after the bloc’s announcement of new members in August.
Shettima emphasized the principled approach of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, highlighting a commitment to consensus building in decisions related to international partnerships.
As Nigeria eyes BRICS membership, the move is seen as a strategic step towards enhancing its global economic and diplomatic influence.
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