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As Ethiopian Government Hints of ‘Threat’ From Sudan, Will Tigrayans Seek Independence?

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Ethiopia is an ethnic jigsaw puzzle of different tribes – Amhara, Oromo, Tigrayan, Sidama, Gurage, Wolayta and Somali. The government in Addis Ababa declared a unilateral ceasefire earlier this week after waging war on rebels in the northern region of Tigray since November.

The Ethiopian government has claimed it could re-enter the capital of the rebel region of Tigray “within weeks” but says it is facing a bigger threat, hinting at a possible attack by Sudan or Egypt.

The Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) rebels – led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – recaptured Mekelle on Monday, 28 June, after a 10-day offensive which forced Ethiopian troops to retreat.

​The fall of the regional capital was a humiliating blow to the government of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

But on Wednesday, 30 June, Redwan Hussein, a spokesman for the Ethiopian government’s Tigray taskforce said, in an apparent reference to Sudan: “Ethiopia is exposed to an attack from outsiders.”

​Mr Redwan said the ceasefire had been “made for humanitarian cause” but he claimed: “If it is required, we can easily enter to Mekelle and we can enter in less than three weeks.”

The head of the Ethiopian Army, Lieuteant General Bacha Debele, added: “The TPLF is no more a threat, but we’ve got a more national threat that we need to shift our attention to.”

Ethiopia has been at loggerheads with Sudan and Egypt over its plans to complete the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which they fear will affect the flow of water downstream in the Nile.

Mr Abiy’s government invaded the northern region of Tigray in November, claiming the local government, led by the TPLF, were out of control.

​Ethiopian troops, backed by Eritrean forces who crossed over the border into northern Tigray, quickly took over the capital Mekelle and most of the urban areas as the rebels retreated to the mountains.

But in recent weeks the TPLF and their allies have mounted a stunning counter-attack which culminated in them retaking Mekelle on Monday.   

​Negasi Tesfaye, a political observer in Addis Ababa, said: “Tigrayans will 100 percent go for independence. They will not make the same mistake as 1991 where they thought they were Ethiopians.”

Mr Tesfaye said: “Abiy Ahmed and the Amhara elite have shown Tigrayans that they are not Ethiopians, that Ethiopians despise them, and use TPLF as a cover for their hatred of Tigrayans. Abiy’s support base is entirely dependent upon Amhara nationalists, Addis Ababa opportunists and Westrn support, due to his liberalisation policies.”

He said: “Amharas may abandon him if he gives up fighting Tigray. My theory is Amharas are using him and will discard him after the war with Tigray is over, similar to what they did with Aman Andom in 1974. He is not fully Amhara after all, so they view him with disdain.”

In September 1974 Aman Andom took over as head of state after the Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed by a military coup but was killed two months later after a shootout with other members of the Derg, the socialist junta which had taken over.

​The TPLF dominated Ethiopia’s national politics between 1991 and 2012, when its leader Meles Zenawi died of cancer.

His successors gradually lost their grip on power and the TPLF retreated to Tigray as Amhara and Oromo politicians took over in Addis Ababa.

Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel peace prize when he negotiated a deal with Eritrea to end years of border conflict but he then decided to neutralise the TPLF, an ambition which has apparently backfired on him.The fighting in Tigray has displaced two million people and there have been reports of brutal gang rapes and mass killings by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops.

​The UN has accused Ethiopian and Eritrean forces of blocking food convoys to 350,000 people it claims are facing famine.

Eritrean forces have abandoned the town of Shire in northern Tigray and fled back across the border.

Mr Tesfaye said the TDF had talked about attacking Eritrea and the neighbouring Amhara region but he said that was “risky” and they might “overreach” themselves.

He said while the Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki and his regime had oppressed his people for 30 years it was unlikely the Tigrayans would be seen as “liberators.”



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After death of Elizabeth II, corgi prices hit record high | International

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The first of Queen Elizabeth II’s corgis was a puppy named Susan that was given to her by her parents in 1944, on her 18th birthday. The young princess fell in love with this typical Welsh herding breed. Indeed, she loved corgis so much that she would own more than 30 of Susan’s descendants over the next six decades. “My corgis are family,” Elizabeth II once said.

Corgis were often spotted walking beside the queen in Buckingham Palace, and appeared next to her in numerous personal photographs, as well as official portraits. They were an inseparable part of her image. After the queen’s death on September 8, the cost of a corgi dog has broken new records, according to the AFP news agency.

“The prices asked for by registered corgi breeders have today hit a new high, with average asking prices doubling over the past three days,” Pets4Homes, an online pet store in the United Kingdom, told the news agency. For the first time, a corgi was selling for over £2,500 ($2,678), even outstripping prices reached during the pandemic, when there was a huge spike in demand for pets.

Pets4Homes added that it was experiencing “over 10 times the volume of daily searches for corgis when compared to this time last week.”

According to Kennel Club, one of the largest purebred dog breeders in the UK, corgi prices also broke records back in 1944, when the queen was gifted Susan. “People – breeders – were servicing the market for a dog that has suddenly become very popular. It’s the 101 Dalmatians effect,” Ciara Farrell, the Kennel Club’s Library and Collections Manager, told the BBC in reference to the surge in popularity of dalmatians following the release of the 1961 Disney animated movie.

Elizabeth II arriving at King's Cross Station, London, on October 15, 1969 with her four corgis after a holiday at Balmoral Castle. She used to travel with her pets, so images of Queen II surrounded by corgis were common.
Elizabeth II arriving at King’s Cross Station, London, on October 15, 1969 with her four corgis after a holiday at Balmoral Castle. She used to travel with her pets, so images of Queen II surrounded by corgis were common.STF (AFP)

Demand for the corgi breed rose again in the 1960s, with nearly 9,000 puppy registrations, as newspapers and television showed images of the young queen with her family and corgis. By the late 1990s, interest had begun to fade, and in 2014, the Kennel Club listed corgis in the vulnerable native breed category, with just 274 new puppy registrations.

In 2017, registrations increased by 17%, and by 47% a year later, in 2018. This period coincided with the release of the popular Netflix TV show The Crown, which follows the life of Queen Elizabeth.

The last two corgis owned by Elizabeth II were Muick and Sandy, who were gifted to her by her son, Prince Andrew, following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, in April 2021. Angela Kelly, the queen’s dresser, said at the time: “I was worried they would get under the Queen’s feet, but they have turned out to be a godsend. They are beautiful and great fun and the Queen often takes long walks with them in Home Park.”

Muick and Sandy stayed with the queen until her last moments, sources close to the palace told the British newspaper Daily Mail. On September 19, the corgis also stood with Prince Andrew outside Windsor Castle to farewell their former owner. Outside, many Britons had also decided to bring their own corgis to say goodbye to the queen.

It is now up to Prince Andrew and his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, to take care of Muick and Sandy.

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Iran launches airstrike against Kurdish group in northern Iraq | Iran

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Iran has launched a deadly cross-border airstrike into northern Iraq to punish Kurds for their role in supporting demonstrations over the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish woman in Iranian police custody that are still rattling the Tehran regime.

The attack occurred as the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, addressed the nation to express his regret over the death of Mahsa Amini a fortnight ago, but also to accuse the protesters of being agents of foreign powers.

Activists in Iran, speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, said: “Our confidence is growing. We are not backing down despite the arrests. It is very beautiful. There is a belief that something is going to change this time.”

Lawyers acting for Amini’s family have, in defiance of regime pressure, filed a formal complaint against those responsible for her arrest. They have demanded a detailed independent investigation into her death, including the manner of arrest and transfer to hospital, as well as photographs and videos of the arrest, and any brain scans.

Amini, now a symbol of resistance to the regime, died in police custody after she was picked up by the morality police in Tehran for not wearing a hijab properly.

As many as 13 people were killed and 58 injured in the Iranian drone strikes on military bases in northern Iraq that belong to the exiled Kurdish Democratic party of Iran.

The KDPI said in a statement: “The forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran attacked the bases and headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic party of Iran with missiles and drones.”

Iran said it was attacking terrorist bases, while the US described the strikes as brazen.

The KPDI urged its supporters inside Iran to return to the streets, with its London spokesperson saying: “Support for these demonstrations is building. This started about one Kurdish woman and the wearing of the hijab, but it is now something wider in over 100 cities. The chant in the streets is: ‘Death to the regime. Death to the dictator.’”

Reports on the number of deaths amid the protests differ; the Oslo-based human rights group Iran Human Rights said the figure was at least 76, while Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency has put the toll at “around 60”, including several members of the Iranian security forces.

The regime will be desperate to ensure the protests do not extend to more working-class districts, and is likely to portray the protesters as anti-patriotic liberals at odds with the values of the regime.

Iran’s police said on Wednesday they would confront protests “with all their might”. However, the country’s minister for women’s affairs, Ensieh Khazali, said she had visited arrested women in jail and was seeking the release of those not guilty of major offences.

The UN said its secretary general, António Guterres, had called on Raisi not to use “disproportionate force” against protesters.

“We are increasingly concerned about reports of rising fatalities, including women and children, related to the protests,” the UN chief’s spokeperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said.

Iran has shut down the internet to prevent protesters using social media to inform the outside world of the scale of the repression. Up to 20 reporters have been arrested, and newspapers are increasingly toeing the government line that the protests are being manipulated by Saudi Arabian or western media. Some papers are staging debates on whether the compulsory hijab is required by sharia law.

The regime has continued to claim the west’s response followed what it regarded as a successful performance by Raisi at the UN general assembly in New York. But the regime is being battered by the persistence of the demonstrations and the willingness of prominent Iranians, including musicians, actors, sports stars and academics, to demand the voice of young Iranians be respected.

Fatemeh Motamed-Arya, an award-winning actor, appeared without hijab to speak at the funeral ceremony of fellow actor Amin Tariokh. The Iranian football coach and former player Ali Karimi has also backed the demonstrations, as has the composer Hossein Alizadeh.

In Britain, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British Iranian dual-national who spent five years in an Iranian jail, cut her hair for BBC Persian cameras to show solidarity with the protests in Iran.

Companies said the continued shutdown of the internet was damaging business.

On Tuesday, authorities in Iran arrested the daughter of the former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani for “inciting rioters”, the Tasnim news agency reported. They have also been threatening celebrities and football stars who have supported the protesters.

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‘Never Had Such Pathetic Experience’: Indian Actresses Harassed at Movie Promo – Video

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Police have filed a case and launched an investigation to identify and trace those who sexually assaulted the movie stars.

Two Indian actresses from Malayalam-language cinema have revealed that they were sexually abused at a movie promotion event in the Kozhikode district of the Indian state of Kerala.

A video of the incident shared online shows the moment when an unknown man gropes one of the actresses, Saniya Iyappan, as they were trying to get through the crowd surrounded by bodyguards. The actress can be seen turning around in an attempt to slap him, but he escaped.

Following the assault, Iyappan took to social media, saying that both she and her colleague have been to several places in the country to promote the upcoming movie — but had never had “such a pathetic experience” elsewhere.

“Kozhikode is a place I loved a lot. But, tonight while returning after a programme, a person from the crowd grabbed me. It disgusts me to say where! Are people around us so frustrated?,” the actress wrote.

She also revealed that her co-actress had a similar experience, but did not have a chance to respond to the attacker.

“She reacted, but I couldn’t in that situation as I was dumbstruck for a moment,” the victim said in a post.

“Later, I also encountered a similar experience but I reacted… I wish that no one has to face this kind of unwanted trauma in their life,” the other actress confirmed.



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