Israel's propaganda to escalate war in the Middle East



International Desk, Barta24.com
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Tel Aviv-based KAN News claimed that Saudi Arabia and Jordan participated in a defense alliance with Israel to prevent Iran's attack. However, both countries denied this claim. Political analysts think that Israel has involved the name of Saudi-Jordan with the intention of spreading war in the Middle East.

On Tuesday (April 16), the country's state-owned newspaper Al-Arabia reported that Saudi Arabia was not involved in preventing Iran's attack on Israeli territory last Saturday (April 13) night, according to a source close to the Saudi government. Jordan also claimed the same.

According to the report of Arab News, the news published a day ago by the Israeli media, citing a Saudi Arabian official website, said that Saudi Arabia has participated in a defense alliance to protect Israel from an attack by Iran. But Saudi Arabia's state sources have denied this information.

Earlier, the website said, Saudi Arabia has cooperated with a military coalition consisting of Israel, the United States, Jordan, the United Kingdom and France, in addition to using its own air defense systems to destroy drones and missiles fired by Iran.

The reason behind the cooperation, according to the report, is that Saudi Arabia believes that Iran has been planning to take advantage of the conflict in Gaza since the start of the conflict and that the recent attacks carried out by Tehran are part of that plan.

Several Saudi sources told Al-Arabiya that the website citing Saudi participation in preventing attacks by Iran against Israel does not actually exist in Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Amman-based military analyst Mahmoud Ridasad said about the happy news in the Israeli media that Jordan had helped; it is nothing but Israeli propaganda.

It should be noted that on April 13, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fired hundreds of drones and missiles at Israeli territory. Before that, on April 1, Israel attacked the Iranian consulate building in Damascus, the capital of Syria. Several military officers including Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, the senior commander of Quds Force, the elite wing of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, were killed in the attack.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the Middle East cannot afford another war. So alleviating the tension here will be everyone's priority.

He said these things in a press conference on Tuesday (April 16) on the eve of his visit to Islamabad.

Meanwhile, Israel's Western allies, including France, Germany, and Britain, have asked for restraint, but Israel's army chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi has vowed to respond to Iran's attack.

And Iran says that any attack on them will be met with a terrible response. The country's deputy foreign minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, said the response would be within seconds. In this case, Iran will use weapons that have never been used before.

   

Return of the Maharajah: Air India’s multi-billion dollar turnaround plan to become world's best airlines



Ishtiaq Hussein, Special Correspondent, Barta24.com
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Air India, India's privatised 92-year-old flag carrier is gearing up not just to regain its lost glory but also to become one of the world’s best airlines with multi-billion-dollar investments.

In the 70s, Singapore's founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew enjoyed Air India's service and said he wanted to establish such a state-owned airline in his country.

Reflecting the quality of its services, the airline’s mascot is the Maharajah (High King). It was created in 1946 by Bobby Kooka, the then-commercial director of Air India, and Umesh Rao, an artist with J Walter Thompson Limited.

Air India, which was then ranked among the best in terms of service quality, went from declining to a struggling airline over the years.

In October 2021, the loss-making company was later sold by the Indian government back to its original owners, the Tata Group.

With Tata regaining control of Air India, Tata Sons Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran made it clear they aim to make the company the best airline in the world.

Following the acquisition, Tata appointed Campbell Wilson as the CEO of Air India. Before joining Air India, Campbell worked at low-cost airline Scott in Singapore.

5-year turnaround plan

Air India is in the process of restoring its glory under a 5-year turnaround project.

Under the plan, the company has already ordered 470 new aircraft; 5,000 new workers have been hired, whose average age has been brought down from 54 to 35.

Tata Group has invested $10 billion over the past few years to revamp Air India.

Apart from the purchase order of 470 new aircraft, cabin modernisation and passenger service standards have been redone.

In the 5-year plan, Air India expects massive growth in the country's domestic market, which has around 145 million passengers annually.

Tata's primary priority is to retire its ageing aircraft from its fleet because the maintenance of these aircraft was neglected for decades.

Within a short period of taking ownership, Air India added 36 aircraft to its fleet through leasing, including 11 Boeing 777s and 25 Airbus A320s.

Through these aircraft, the airline launched 6 new international routes and also increased the number of flights on 24 routes.

Air India is investing $70 billion for 470 aircraft. These aircraft include 140 A320 Neos, 70 A321 Neos and 190 Boeing 737 Max.

Time will tell

Aviation experts say it is difficult to say now what its future holds but revamping is the best investment to pull out a sinking airline.

Jitender Bhargava, former executive director of Air India, said significant improvement in Tata’s ownership of the airline will be visible from 2027.

“To be honest this is not T20 cricket. It will take time to restore brand image and acquire technology, services and new aircraft,” he added.

Hardy Patel, a travel curator, said a debt-ridden, loss-making airline will take time to pull itself together.

Tata remains steadfast in its mission despite criticism and worker unrest.

“With the latest acquisitions, Air India will be able to operate the world's most advanced and fuel-efficient aircraft within 5 years. The airline is spending $400 million to upgrade the existing fleet by refurbishing cabin interiors. Onboard services have also been improved. These include the introduction of premium economy seats on long-haul flights and the introduction of new food menus,” Air India CEO Campbell Wilson said.

Air India aims to fly high

India is the only country whose population will surpass China in future.

The country’s middle class is growing rapidly due to which the demand for air travel is increasing not only from the upper class but also from the mid-tier.

In the last decade, Indigo Airlines capitalised on this demand and became the largest airline in the country.

Even in international destinations, they are doing well.

Indigo Airlines has a market share of 25% in international destinations.

Tata has already invested $200 million in the technology sector just to increase reliability.

The company is rescheduling the Dhaka-Mumbai route with Airbus A350-900 aircraft.

Merger of Vistara with Air India will be another milestone.

Analysts believe that this will make Air India a truly world-class airline.

Air India aims to capture 30% market share – both in domestic and international routes, by 2027.

The company adds one new aircraft to its fleet every 6 days.

Bigger airport for the big fleet

To cope with the increase in air travellers, India is building an aviation hub as an alternative to Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport – the Noida International Airport, which will be able to handle three times more passengers.

Once its construction is completed, it will emerge as an alternative to Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.

Located in the Gautam Buddha Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh, the airport is being developed on a public-private partnership model.

In 2019, Flugfen, the operator of Zurich Airport in Switzerland, won the contract to build the new airport in Noida.

They will operate the airport for 40 years. The construction of this new airport and the expansion of Indira Gandhi International Airport will cost up to $11 billion.

Meanwhile, the National Highways Authority of India is constructing this 31km long greenfield highway to reach the airport.

Initially, the airport will have two runways and space has been earmarked to expand it to 8 runways.

Noida Airport will be able to serve 1.2 million passengers a year and it will be increased to serve 1.2 million passengers.

Concerns remain over consistency 

But even after all this, there are still concerns about Air India.

Despite the big investments, experts say it will lay the groundwork for Air India to succeed, but the changes won't do much if the airline can't be reliable and punctual to passengers.

Above all the airlines have to be extremely vigilant about on-time flights, otherwise once the passengers turn away it will be very difficult and difficult to regain trust.

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Raisi's death is serious, but the country will go ahead: Mokhbar



International Desk, Barta24.com
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Commenting on the death of Ibrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash as a serious incident, Iran's new interim president, Mohammad Mokhbar, said his death will not disrupt our work. The country will move forward.

He said this at the first cabinet meeting on Monday (May 20) after the death of President Raisi.

Video footage released by Reuters shows Iran's newly-appointed interim president Mohammad Mokhbar addressing cabinet members.

Describing the helicopter crash as a serious incident, he said the country will move forward despite the death of President Ibrahim Raisi. That's why everyone should continue their work. This tragic event will in no way disrupt the governance of our country.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif mourned Raisi's death.

Iran's Tasnim media reported that the Janaza of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi will be held in Tabriz on Tuesday (May 21). Citing officials in Iran's East Azerbaijan province, Tasnim also reported that Janazas will be held there for the president as well as his slain entourage. Before that, the bodies will be kept at the Forensic Department in Tabriz.

It should be noted that the helicopter crashed on Sunday (May 19) near the Zolfa area of East Azerbaijan province of Iran. Iran's President Ibrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and some senior officials of the country were in the helicopter. In this incident, the president of Iran, the foreign minister and all the passengers were killed.

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Russia is ready to help Iran in the investigation of Raisi's death



International Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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The Secretary of the Russian Security Council, Sergei Shoigu, said that Moscow is ready to assist the country in the investigation of the death of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash.

Qatar-based media Al-Jazeera reported this information on Monday (May 20) according to the Russian state news agency RIA.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed condolences to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Raisi's death, saying Ibrahim Raisi was a true friend of Russia.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif expressed their condolences over Raisi's death.

Iran's Tasnim news media reported that the Janaza of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi will be held in Tabriz on Tuesday (May 21). Citing officials in Iran's East Azerbaijan province, Tasnim also reported that janaza will be held there for the president as well as his slain entourage. Before that, the bodies will be kept at the Forensic Department in Tabriz.

It should be noted that the helicopter crashed on Sunday (May 19) near the Zolfa area of East Azerbaijan province of Iran. Iran's President Ibrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and some senior officials of the country were in the helicopter. In this incident, the president of Iran, the foreign minister and all the passengers were killed.

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Raisi's Janaza to be held tomorrow



International Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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Iran's Tasnim media reported that the Janaza of Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi will be held in Tabriz tomorrow, Tuesday (May 21).

The media outlet Tasnim is affiliated with the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Raisi and his companions left for Tabriz yesterday.

Citing officials in Iran's East Azerbaijan province, Tasnim also reported that the Janaza of the president as well as his slain entourage will take place there. Before that, the bodies will be kept at the Forensic Department in Tabriz.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has declared five days of mourning in memory of President Raisi in a formal ceremony. 

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