Headlines from the region

Headlines from the region

 Saudi top US arms buyer

Saudi Arabia was the biggest buyer of U.S. weapons during a four-year span with $11.2 billion in deals, followed by the United Arab Emirates with $10 billion, the U.S. Congressional Research Service said in a new report.

The tally reflected the value of U.S. “defense articles and defense services” sold from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2008, under the Foreign Military Sales program, which covers U.S. government-to-government deals.

Next on the Congressional Research Service’s list were Australia, with $6.4 billion; Egypt, $5.2 billion; Pakistan, $4.5 billion and Iraq, $3.5 billion, according to the “U.S. Arms Sales” report, dated December 2.

Filling out the top 10 buyers in the period were South Korea, $3.1 billion; Japan, $3 billion; Israel, $2.7 billion; and Morocco, $2.5 billion, the research service said.

¡Hola! magazine comes to Morocco

¡Hola! Maroc hits the newsstands in December 2009.

Printed in French, and with an initial circulation of 50,000 copies, it will offer its readers the most exclusive and prestigious stories with the glamour and elegance that distinguish ¡Hola!

This monthly magazine will combine royalty, celebrities and the most influential personalities not only from Morocco but also from the entire Arabic world together with the most relevant international news.

¡Hola!, first published in Spain in 1944, started it’s international expansion with the launch of Hello! magazine in the UK in 1988.

Morocco says hunger strike a ploy by Algeria

Morocco on Monday charged that Aminatou Haidar ( Pic.), a Sahrawi activist on hunger strike in Spain’s Canary Islands, is part of a “systematic, methodical plot devised by Algeria.”

Haidar, 42, has been on hunger strike for almost a month on Lanzarote, after being refused entry to the Western Sahara, which is territory occupied by and claimed by Morocco.

Algeria has long been an ally of the Polisario Front independence movement, which emerged in the Western Sahara as Spanish settlers withdrew in 1975 and Morocco annexed the territory.

Haidar, 42, is claiming her right to return to Western Sahara’s main town of Laayoune and accuses the Moroccan authorities of taking away her Moroccan passport. But the Rabat government says she refused “to carry out the usual police formalities (in Laayoune) and denied her Moroccan nationality.”

Ethiopians repatriated from Libya

The International Organization for Migration repatriated on Tuesday 160 Ethiopian migrants who had been stranded in Libya without travel documents.

“The 160 migrants boarded a chartered aircraft in the southern Libyan town of Sebha on Tuesday for a five-hour flight to Addis Abeba,” where they were met and assisted by IOM staff, the organization said.

“This group of stranded migrants, like so many others, realized they had no future in Libya and wanted to return home but couldn’t because they had no money or documentation,” said the IOM’s Tripoli chief of mission Laurence Hart.

The IOM gave each migrant 400 euros (around 585 dollars) when they landed in Addis Abeba to help them “start income-generating activities” as part of its voluntary repatriation program, the organization said.

Emirates Skycargo looks to boost Tunisian exports

“Emirates SkyCargo”, the freight division of Emirates airline which offers comprehensive cargo solutions to more than 100 destinations to over 60 countries on six continents, plans to achieve a 50% annual growth rate in volume of goods exported from Tunisia.

Since the creation of the Tunis-Dubai service four years ago,”Emirates SkyCargo”, has freighted about 5189 tons of goods to Tunisia and exported 60 tons every month to the Gulf States.

From April until the end of November 2009, “Emirates Cargo Airlines” carried 975 tons of cargo goods from Tunisia, fast approaching last year’s record with 1080 tons shipped between 2007 and 2008.

Obama calls for Lebanon to curtail arms smuggling

US President Barack Obama pressed Lebanon on Monday to take action against arms smuggling into the country which he said threatened Israeli security.

Obama said after a White House meeting with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman that there had been some progress in enforcing a United Nations Security Council resolution banning such shipments but that more needed to be done.

The Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, has continued to defy the UN resolution that ended the 2006 war in Lebanon and demanded that the group disarm.

Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and Syria, has two ministers in the 30-member Lebanese cabinet, which has backed the group’s right to keep its arms to deter Israeli attacks.

Hezbollah’s Nasrallah to Syria?

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah was likely to visit Syria in order to console Syrian President Bashar Assad for the death of his younger brother Majd, according to a report in London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi.

A number of senior Lebanese political figures visited Syria Sunday in order to send their condolences to Assad. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter of condolence.