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Arabic press review: Palestinian Authority arrests West Bank journalist

Meanwhile, Saudi authorities arrest officials suspected of corruption, revenues of Gulf-based airlines increase by 80 percent, and Syrian dissidents launch political party in France
Tariq Yousef Al-Sarkji was detained on Monday from Nablus in the northern West Bank, his wife said (Facebook)

Palestinian Authority arrests journalist in West Bank

Palestinian security forces arrested journalist Tariq Yousef Al-Sarkji, 35, from his home in the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank on Monday night, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper.

"A force from the Palestinian Preventive Security in civilian clothing raided our house at approximately 10.45 pm local time and informed my husband of his arrest, without presenting an arrest warrant or cards stating that they were security men. Then they confiscated his mobile phone," Somaya Jawabra, the journalist's wife, said.

"My husband suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, and I asked them to let my husband take his medication, and with difficulty I was able to convince them to do so. We fear that his health will worsen in light of his arrest," she told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The Committee of Families of Political Prisoners in the West Bank denounced Al-Sarkji's arrest and confiscation of his devices. 

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"These arrests are part of a series of violations committed by the security services of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and their ongoing campaign to pursue activists, restrict freedom of opinion and expression, and gag mouths," the NGO said, according Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Al-Sarkji works as a photographer with local media outlets and previously worked as a director on local television stations. 

Saudi authorities arrest officials suspected of corruption

The Saudi Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority, known as Nazaha, announced investigations on Monday into 21 corruption cases implicating high-ranking officials within the interior and defence ministries, as well as employees from various government agencies.

The majority of these cases centre around the acceptance of bribes, with the intent of expediting requests on behalf of businesspersons and investors, according to the Saudi newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat.

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These requests include obtaining commercial records or assisting in the registration of land titles, among others.

The total sum confiscated in connection with these cases stands at 17.7m riyals ($4.7m USD), as reported by Asharq Al-Awsat.

The most prominent among these new cases involves the arrest of the director of the Support Services Department in a regional municipality. He is alleged to have received 12m riyals from a commercial entity linked to an acquaintance in exchange for unlawfully awarding projects.

Additionally, an employee from a criminal court and a lawyer were caught red-handed while accepting a sum of 1.5m riyals to expedite the legal process in favour of a citizen facing charges in court, the report added.

Revenues of Gulf airlines increased by 80 percent

Official data has revealed a remarkable upswing in the revenues of five Gulf airlines in 2022, marking an 80 percent surge compared to the previous year. Their combined revenues surged to approximately $48.1bn, a substantial leap from the $26.7bn recorded in 2021, as reported by the New Khalij newspaper on Monday.

The report attributed the significant growth to the relaxation of global travel restrictions after the end of lockdown measures associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.

The airlines covered in this data analysis are Air Arabia, Qatar Airways, Jazeera Airways, Emirates Airlines and Flydubai.

Among these carriers, Emirates Airlines secured the lion's share of total revenues, surpassing an impressive $29.2bn, representing an 81 percent increase compared to the previous year. Furthermore, Emirates Airlines accommodated approximately 43.6 million passengers in 2022, marking a remarkable 122 percent growth compared to 2021.

In second place, Qatar Airways recorded revenues of $14.4bn in 2022, reflecting a substantial 79 percent increase. The number of passengers travelling on Qatar Airways during this period surged to 18.6 million, a 218 percent rise.

Syrian dissidents launch political party in France

Syrian opposition figures in Paris have officially announced the establishment of a new political entity known as the Syrian Social Democratic Party, as reported by the Arabi 21 website.

In its founding statement, the new party underscored its commitment to "creating political entities that truly represent Syrians". It further articulated its primary goal, which is to "collaborate with the Syrian people in the pursuit of overthrowing the dictatorial regime and instituting a pluralistic democratic system in alignment with UN Resolution 2254".

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The party has pledged its dedication to providing essential services, participating in the reconstruction of the country, and building the necessary infrastructure and institutions to foster economic, social, cultural and political revitalisation.

In its founding principles, the party emphasised that it explicitly avoids ideological conflicts and sidesteps divisive identity debates, instead focusing on tangible achievements.

Explaining the choice of Paris as the location for announcing the party's formation, party leader Ahmed Al-Bahri stated: "A significant proportion of displaced Syrians reside in European countries, and I believe that Syrians living here bear a significant responsibility, given the ample space for political engagement."

He added that the majority of party members possess the necessary tools for political activism, and they aim to leverage the freedom of expression available in Europe to reshape traditional approaches to political work.

Al-Bahri stressed that Syrians require a genuine political body that represents their interests and rights in the future, emphasising that the party will not wait until the fall of the current regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Instead, "it will commence its work immediately by establishing connections with Syrians within the country, solidifying relationships, and spreading the party's vision and goals within Syria".

*Arabic press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

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