MECCA: Monumental crowds of pilgrims thronged Mecca, Islam’s holiest metropolis, on Friday for the largest Hajj pilgrimage in years, with greater than two million anticipated to courageous the scorching Saudi Arabian warmth.
Pilgrims in white robes and sandals packed the traditional metropolis, now dotted with luxurious resorts and air-conditioned procuring malls, after flooding in on planes, buses and trains for the annual rites.
This yr’s Hajj — one of many world’s greatest annual spiritual gatherings may break attendance information, officers stated.
“Because the Hajj attracts close to, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia prepares… for the biggest Islamic gathering in historical past,” Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah stated in a video revealed by the ministry this week.
The devoted will circle the Holy Kaaba, pray on Mount Arafat and stone the satan by throwing pebbles at three big concrete partitions representing Devil.
Greater than two million individuals from greater than 160 nations will attend, Rabiah stated — a dramatic improve on the 926,000 from final yr, when numbers had been capped at a million post-pandemic.
In 2019, about 2.5 million individuals took half. Solely 10,000 had been allowed in 2020, on the top of the Covid-19 pandemic, rising to almost 59,000 a yr later.
The Hajj is among the many 5 pillars of Islam and have to be undertaken by all Muslims with the means a minimum of as soon as of their lives.
Travellers from around the globe have been pouring into Jeddah’s modernised airport, a few of them utilizing streamlined visa companies to disembark from planes straight onto buses to their lodging.
Some 24,000 buses can be in service to ferry the pilgrims, in addition to 17 trains able to shifting 72,000 individuals each hour, officers stated.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling that may be very emotional,” Souad bin Oueis, a 60-year-old Moroccan pilgrim, informed AFP after arriving on her first go to to Saudi Arabia alongside along with her husband.
This Hajj would be the greatest for the reason that requirement for ladies to be accompanied by male guardians was dropped in 2021.
This yr, the utmost age restrict has additionally been scrapped, that means hundreds of aged can be amongst these contending with Saudi summer season temperatures which are anticipated to succeed in 44 levels Celsius.
The Hajj begins late Sunday on the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The worshippers will sleep in tents on Monday night time and spend Tuesday at Mount Arafat, the climax of the Hajj, the place the Holy Prophet (PBUH) delivered his remaining sermon.
After casting pebbles within the stoning of the satan ritual on Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Eidul Azha vacation, pilgrims return to Mecca to carry out a farewell tawaf.
Mecca pilgrimages are a significant supply of revenue for Saudi Arabia, which is embarking on an formidable plan to overtake its largely oil-dependent economic system. The Hajj and year-round Umrah generate an estimated $12 billion yearly.
An growth mission that entails scaling up infrastructure and transport supporting Mecca and Medina, the place two of Islam’s holiest websites are situated, is a key a part of the financial plan as the dominion appears to extend customer numbers.
This yr’s summer season timing for the Hajj, which follows the lunar calendar, will check the endurance of worshippers.
Greater than 32,000 well being employees can be available to assist fend off heatstroke, dehydration and exhaustion.
Xi, Assad announce China-Syria strategic partnership
HANGZHOU: Chinese language President Xi Jinping and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday collectively introduced the institution of a China-Syria strategic partnership, as the 2 leaders met in Hangzhou forward of the opening of the nineteenth Asian Video games, nearly 20 years after Assad’s final go to to China in 2004.
Specialists regard the transfer as being of nice sensible significance, as it would drastically help the development of Syrian individuals’s livelihoods, which have lengthy been ignored by the West.
In Hangzhou on Friday, Assad was seen along with his spouse visiting the Lingyin Temple, one of many largest Buddhist temples in China. Their shock look was warmly welcomed by native vacationers and sparked heated discussions on Chinese language social media.
In movies broadly circulating on Weibo, Assad and his spouse have been seen shaking palms and exchanging hugs with guests with large smiles on their faces – demonstrating by means of concrete actions that totally different cultures and civilizations can respect and talk with one another easily, consultants mentioned.
When assembly with Assad, Xi mentioned Syria was one of many first Arab international locations to ascertain diplomatic relations with the Folks’s Republic of China, and was one of many international locations that co-sponsored the decision to revive the lawful seat of the Folks’s Republic of China within the United Nations.
Over the 67 years for the reason that institution of diplomatic ties between the 2 international locations, the China-Syria relationship has stood the check of adjustments within the worldwide scenario, and their friendship has grown stronger over time, he mentioned.
The institution of the strategic partnership will likely be an essential milestone within the historical past of bilateral ties, Xi famous.
Zhu Yongbiao, director of the Middle for Afghanistan Research at Lanzhou College, instructed the International Occasions on Friday that the institution of the partnership is of nice sensible significance to each side, and affords huge potential for future improvement. It additionally carries symbolic that means, because it comes at a time when Syria has been embroiled in extended turmoil, significantly towards the backdrop of US sanctions.
For Syria, the institution of a partnership with China is an exit from its diplomatic isolation, highlighting the failure of the US and its allies’ efforts to overthrow Assad authorities, Zhu famous.
On the identical time, it mirrored the strategic autonomy of China’s diplomacy regardless of the US’ unilateral long-arm jurisdiction, the professional mentioned.
Throughout the assembly between each heads of state, Xi emphasised that China will proceed to firmly help Syria on points regarding its core pursuits and main issues, work with Syria to safeguard the frequent pursuits of growing international locations, and help Syria in opposing international interference, rejecting unilateralism and bullying, and safeguarding nationwide independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
China helps Syria in conducting reconstruction, enhancing counter-terrorism capability constructing, and selling a political settlement of the Syrian subject following the “Syrian-led, Syrian-owned” precept, Xi mentioned.
China additionally helps Syria in enhancing its relations with different Arab international locations and enjoying a better position in worldwide and regional affairs, he added.
Amid the accelerated pattern of reconciliation within the Center East, Syria was reinstated to the Arab League after it was suspended from the physique 12 years in the past.
The go to got here six months after a China-brokered deal noticed longtime regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran agree to revive diplomatic relations. China now turns into one in all a handful of nations outdoors the Center East that Assad has visited since 2011, media reported.
Xi and Assad’s assembly is a invaluable pillar of help for enhancing the lives of the Syrian individuals within the technique of post-war reconstruction and financial restoration, Zhu famous.
“Over the previous decade, the lives of extraordinary Syrians have been severely affected, and their plight was intentionally ignored by the West. In distinction, China has offered diplomatic and financial help, offering Syria promising prospects for strengthening cooperation,” the professional mentioned.
In January 2022, Syria joined China’s Belt and Highway Initiative. Xi on Friday instructed Assad that China is prepared to strengthen cooperation below the initiative with Syria, and in addition to extend the imports of high-quality agricultural merchandise from Syria.
Assad instructed Xi that Syria sincerely appreciates the Chinese language authorities for its invaluable help to the Syrian individuals and firmly opposes any interference in China’s inner affairs. Syria is able to be China’s long-term pal and companion, he added.
After the assembly, the 2 heads of state witnessed the signing of plenty of cooperation agreements, together with the joint development of the Belt and Highway Initiative, financial improvement exchanges, and technological cooperation.
Canada has Indian diplomats’ communications in Sikh chief’s homicide probe: report
The Canadian authorities has amassed each human and indicators intelligence in a months-long investigation of a Sikh activist’s homicide, which it has alleged was achieved by India, CBC Information reported on Friday.
The unprecedented tensions flared up on Monday after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mentioned Ottawa was “actively pursuing credible allegations” linking Indian authorities brokers to the homicide of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, exterior a Sikh temple in British Columbia in June.
The 2 nations, whose relations have been fraying lately over the difficulty of Sikh separatists, have since introduced tit-for-tat explulsions of senior diplomats and issued tit-for-tat journey advisories.
Indian PM Narendra Modi’s authorities denied any hyperlinks to the alleged homicide. Whereas calling on India to cooperate with the investigation into the homicide, Canada mentioned on Thursday it will not launch its proof.
Conventional Canadian allies have to date taken a comparatively cautious method to the matter. Analysts say that is partly as a result of the US and different main gamers see India as a counterweight to the rising affect of China.
In the present day, quoting Canadian authorities sources, CBC Information mentioned the “intelligence contains communications involving Indian officers themselves, together with Indian diplomats current in Canada”.
It added that the intelligence “didn’t come solely from Canada” and a few was additionally supplied by “an unnamed ally within the 5 Eyes” alliance — an intelligence-sharing community that features the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The Canadian publication went on so as to add that the slain Sikh chief “reportedly had been warned by the Canadian Safety Intelligence Service that he was in danger”.
The report additional mentioned that “in a diplomatic disaster that unfolded progressively behind the scenes, Canadian officers went to India on a number of events searching for cooperation” within the investigation of Nijjar’s loss of life.
CBC Information mentioned that Canada’s Nationwide Safety and Intelligence Adviser Jody Thomas was in India over 4 days in mid-August. One other five-day go to this month overlapped with a “tense assembly” between the 2 nations’ premiers, it added.
The report quoted Canadian sources as saying: “When pressed behind closed doorways, no Indian official has denied the bombshell allegation on the core of this case — that there’s proof to counsel Indian authorities involvement within the assassination of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil.”
“I can guarantee you that the choice to share these allegations on the ground of the Home of Commons … was not achieved flippantly,” CBC quoted Trudeau as stating yesterday after attending the 78th UN Common Meeting in New York. “It was achieved with the utmost seriousness.”
In the meantime, the US is in contact with Indians at excessive ranges and Washington is giving India no “particular exemption” within the matter, its nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan mentioned on Thursday.
America has been searching for to strengthen its relationship with India. President Joe Biden hosted Modi for a state go to on the White Home earlier this yr.
Requested whether or not US concern over the incident may disrupt that course of, Sullivan mentioned the US would rise up for its ideas, no matter what nation is affected.
“It’s a matter of concern for us. It’s one thing we take severely. It’s one thing we’ll hold engaged on, and we’ll do this whatever the nation,” Sullivan advised reporters on the White Home.
“There’s not some particular exemption you get for actions like this. Whatever the nation, we’ll rise up and defend our primary ideas and we may even seek the advice of intently with allies like Canada as they pursue their legislation enforcement and diplomatic course of.”
Sullivan famous that the US was in contact with each nations concerning the subject. “We’re in fixed contact with our Canadian counterparts … and now we have additionally been in contact with the Indian authorities,” Sullivan mentioned.
Earlier, John Kirby, spokesman for the White Home Nationwide Safety Council (NSC) had mentioned it supported Canada’s efforts to analyze the killing and inspired India to cooperate within the probe.
Individually, one other NSC spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, had denied stories that the US had “rebuffed” Canada over the matter.
Australia had expressed “deep concern” over Canada’s accusations whereas Britain mentioned it was in shut contact with its Canadian companions concerning the “critical allegations”.
Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar had a day in the past termed the rising wave of Hindutva or Hindu nationalism a “matter of deep concern” for the worldwide group.
The Overseas Workplace had additionally mentioned the accusation confirmed that New Delhi’s “community of extra-territorial killings” had gone world whereas Overseas Secretary Syrus Qazi mentioned Pakistan was not shocked by the Canadian accusation.
Zelensky wins Biden help however faces US skeptics
WASHINGTON: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Washington Thursday to attraction for assist combating Russia, successful heat phrases of help and weapons from Joe Biden however confronting skeptical Republicans who need to minimize off support.
“We’re with you and we’re staying with you,” Biden informed the Ukrainian chief after their high groups met at White Home to thrash out Zelensky’s calls for for extra arms to push again the Russian invasion.
Sporting his trademark olive inexperienced military-style shirt, Zelensky stated Ukraine “has precisely what our troopers want” after Biden introduced a brand new bundle of US navy support, together with refined air protection weapons.
However behind the visuals — agency handshakes throughout a grand cupboard desk and exhibits of solidarity within the Oval Workplace — lay the truth that Zelensky’s second wartime journey to Washington was far more durable than the primary.
The place Zelensky obtained a hero’s welcome when he visited in December, this time he spent his closed-door conferences within the US Congress desperately attempting to beat rising struggle fatigue from Republicans.
Hardline Republicans are threatening to dam Democrat Biden’s request for a recent $24 billion support bundle for Ukraine, and it has now turn out to be caught up in a bitter spending battle that might spark a US authorities shutdown.
– ‘No different’ –
Biden stated alongside Zelensky that there was “no different” to backing the Ukraine funding, including that he was “relying on the nice judgment of the US Congress.”
Talking later on the Nationwide Archives, Zelensky stated, “I assured President Biden that we in Ukraine is not going to surrender and he assured me that America shall be with us, so long as it takes.”
The US president stated the primary US M1 Abrams tanks will arrive in Ukraine “subsequent week,” boosting Kyiv’s forces as they battle Russian troops in a slow-moving counteroffensive.
The most recent US bundle would additionally strengthen Ukraine’s air protection functionality, essential at a time when the nation faces repeated Russian missile and drone assaults.
Zelensky arrived Thursday evening in Ottawa, Canada for an unannounced go to. He was to fulfill Friday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of Canada’s massive Ukrainian neighborhood, and provides a speech to parliament.
In Washington the Ukrainian chief arrived proper after one other wave of Russian missile strikes, hitting cities throughout the nation and killing a minimum of three individuals in Kherson and wounding many in different areas.
Zelensky thanked Biden for the “important help offered by the US to fight Russian terror, actually terror.”
As a part of his bid to win over Washington, Zelensky went to the Pentagon the place he laid a wreath at a memorial for victims of the September 11, 2001 assaults.
However in a blow to Zelensky, Biden rejected for now a request for longer-range ATACMS missiles that may strike as much as 300 kilometers (190 miles) away, the White Home stated.
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