Sun. Jun 4th, 2023
DUBAI: A senior UAE official said on Saturday it was encouraging to see greater European outreach to Gulf Arab states in the face of the Ukraine conflict and energy crunch, but that engagement should not be “transactional.”
A number of European officials have visited Gulf countries to secure energy supplies outside of former top provider Russia after the West imposed sanctions on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
“What we’re hearing, especially from the Germans and others, about reengaging with the Gulf, I am encouraged but I would warn that it should not be transactional,” Anwar Gargash, the diplomatic adviser to the president of the UAE, told the World Policy Conference in Abu Dhabi.
What we’re hearing, especially from the Germans and others, about reengaging with the Gulf, I am encouraged but I would warn that it should not be transactional.
Anwar Gargash
“I think that language is partly driven by self-interest — trying to find new gas providers, new oil providers,” he said. “We need to see actions … it has to be long term and strategic.”
Gargash reiterated a call for “explicit” security assurances from traditional Western allies, especially in dealing with the threat from Iranian drones that Gulf states have long warned about.
It was not until these weapons “made it into the Ukraine theater” that they were “catapulted” into the spotlight, and “suddenly the world rediscovered this issue,” Gargash said.
Western states have accused Russia of using Iranian drones to attack targets in Ukraine, which Tehran and Moscow have denied.
Gulf states have long pressed global powers to address their fears about Iran’s missile and drone programs in now-stalled efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, which former US President Donald Trump exited in 2018.
“This is an opportunity for all of us to come and revisit the whole concept,” Gargash said, referring to the Iran nuclear pact.
Gulf states have resisted Western pressure to break with Russia, a fellow member of the OPEC+ oil producer alliance which in October agreed cuts to output targets.
Gargash said some countries, which he did not name, were loading ties with “moralistic baggage and other interests,” adding politics has to be “more realistic if you want results.”
RAMALLAH: Most Palestinians will remember 2022 as a painful year in terms of the scale of human loss, the increase in Israeli aggression, and the election of an extreme right-wing Israeli government that will further deny them their rights.
Ibrahim Melhem, spokesman for the Palestinian government, told Arab News that 2022 was “the worst year in terms of the high number of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army.”
According to official figures, 225 people were killed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip over the past 12 months.
However, Melhem believes there is cause for optimism thanks to Arab and international solidarity with the Palestinian cause, which was most publicly displayed at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
He also said that international organizations had demonstrated a better understanding of the demands and rights of the Palestinian people.
Ahmed Ghuneim, the leader of the Fatah movement in Jerusalem, told Arab News that the most positive occurrence in 2022 was the emergence of a new generation of Palestinian resistance fighters represented by the Lions’ Den group in Nablus and similar brigades in Jenin, Balata, and other areas.
Palestinians claim that the Israel Defense Forces have changed their rules of engagement in recent months, making it acceptable to open fire when they feel threatened and shoot to kill, even if they could easily just injure the attacker.
Sixty percent of the Israeli armed forces currently operate in the West Bank, where 26 combat and 86 reserve battalions are deployed. “There is a soldier to guard every settler,” Palestinians comment sarcastically.
Israeli officials expect a further deterioration in the security situation in the West Bank in coming weeks and an increase in the number of attacks on Israeli army forces and settlers, which will likely mean a rise in the killing of Palestinians.
On a happier note, Palestinians welcomed a vote by the United Nations General Assembly requesting that the International Court of Justice provide an opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories including Jerusalem. At the assembly, 87 states voted in favor of the resolution, 26 opposed it, and 53 abstained, a result widely considered by Palestinians to be a victory for Palestinian diplomacy.
Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the vote was “evidence of the whole world’s support for our people and their inalienable historical rights.”
He said in a statement that President Mahmoud Abbas thanked all countries “that stood by Palestinian rights and all parties that worked to make this decision a success.”
Abu Rudeineh said the time has come for Israel to be held accountable for its ongoing crimes.
“The world must shoulder its responsibilities and implement the resolutions of international legitimacy, and everyone must stop the double standards,” he said.
He stressed that the Palestinian leadership would take all available opportunities to protect the Palestinian people, and that “resorting to international institutions is a Palestinian right, and we will continue to join international bodies and institutions.”
He added: “We strongly believe that justice based on international resolutions and the absence of impunity is the only way to achieve lasting peace in Palestine, Israel, and the entire region.”
“This means there are no negotiations on whether this is occupied land,” Palestinian government spokesperson Melhem told Arab News.
“No conditions will be imposed on Palestinians in exchange for Israeli withdrawal,” he added.
BEIRUT: Millions of people across Lebanon gathered in markets, restaurants and nightlife venues on Saturday to welcome in the new year. But despite the good cheer and optimism, 2022 was a difficult time for most people in the country and the outlook for 2023 remains gloomy.
Arab News spoke to intellectuals, academics and activists to get their views on what lies in store for the year ahead.
Academic Bashir Esmat said he feared “the complete collapse of the Lebanese state in 2023, as the ruling political class has become powerless and with no alternative, while state institutions cannot be rebuilt with old stones, especially since the same balance of power still governs.”
He added: “Those who took over the reins of power in Lebanon for decades have neglected the country. They destroyed the middle class. Hezbollah is the political decision-maker and the governor of the central bank controls economic decisions. Those defending Lebanon have become worthless groups.
“What happened during the past year is enough to prove it. Lebanon is unable to survive in its current structure, and the conflict in the region may lead us to further fragmentation.”
Intellectual Youssef Bazzi said that since 2019, when the Lebanese crisis began, he had lost all desire to take part in public affairs.
“I am pessimistic about the possibility of bringing about change or reform, and I am starting to believe that Lebanon is an idea that is no longer viable,” he said.
Lawyer Ashraf Al-Moussawi said: “I am concerned about the collapse of the judicial authorities in Lebanon and the loss of confidence in justice. The new year will weaken, in my opinion, citizens’ confidence in the judiciary.”
Public affairs activist Walid Fakhreddine said Lebanon “is a country that produces crises, not solutions. We repeat our mistakes and never adopt a reform project.”
He added: “Hezbollah insists on showing that it has the power in this country and the attack on UNIFIL peacekeepers is evidence of that.
“There is no stability and no solutions at the regional level. Playing games to buy more time is frightening, especially since Lebanon is surrounded by regional crises, while an armed group imposes its decisions on the country.”
Fakhreddine said that the idea of Lebanon being the link between East and West no longer held true.
“We need to determine the economic feasibility and the type of services that we want to provide. We also need to reconsider our stances, even in terms of the conflict with Israel, which requires a different vision.”
Political activist Dr. Khaldoun Al-Sharif fears that if the state continues to fall apart it will be difficult to reunify it.
“The social situation is disintegrating and the people’s ability to withstand it is declining,” he said.
“Those remaining in Lebanon are those who do not have the luxury of leaving, and what keeps Lebanon alive is the flow of migrants’ money to their families.
“We need to launch a dialogue about Lebanon’s prospects. Do we have added value? We have to look for a role after the destruction of our banking, educational and health sectors.”
Wadad Halawani, who heads the Committee of the Families of the Kidnapped and Disappeared in Lebanon, said she was not feeling optimistic about the future.
“Every year, we repeat sentences like parrots and wish for prosperity, which we know in advance will not be achieved under the rule of the corrupt ruling class.
“They cut off the electricity, we start looking for private generators. We begin to go hungry, we receive $100 from abroad to keep us going for a while. We start running out of fuel, we queue at gas stations. We applaud them while insulting them.”
She added: “We need to get rid of the sectarian issues plaguing us and determine our problems so we can resolve them. I am not optimistic.
“We overcame the war without really dealing with its traumas. As long as there is no sense of citizenship, we will remain in this hole that we have been struggling to climb out of for 47 years now.”
Sheikh Zuhair Kubbi, director of the Zakat Fund at Dar Al-Fatwa, said he expected the crises to continue in the new year.
“About 70 percent of the middle class is now below the poverty line. Even the rich are struggling because they no longer have access to their savings and their businesses are no longer as profitable as they used to be.
“There are no positive signs because we always settle for the negative. Our concerns revolve around securing food, water and medicine.”
Maroun Helou, the head of the Syndicate of Public Works Contractors, said he was apprehensive about the presidential vacuum in the new year.
“The ruling class is part of Lebanon’s failure. As long as these parties rule, we can expect more disruption of all state institutions and failure to meet citizens’ needs.
“In the absence of a recovery plan and nonfunctioning banks, the contracting sector is in peril.”
Retired judge Shukri Sader said: “What could eliminate concerns relatively quickly is electing a president in order to revive state institutions.
“We need a president who adheres to Lebanon and its constitution to make up for the six years we lost in the previous term.”
BEIRUT: At least 3,825 people have died in Syria’s war in 2022, the lowest yearly toll since the start of the conflict more than a decade ago, a war monitor said on Saturday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had put the death toll at 3,746 throughout 2021, before revising it up to 3,882.
After years of deadly battle and bombardments following the brutal suppression of 2011 anti-regime protests, the conflict has largely abated in the last three years.
Sporadic fighting at times breaks out and jihadist attacks continue, mainly in the east of the country.
Among those killed in 2022 were 1,627 civilians, including 321 children, according to the figures from the Observatory, which relies on a wide network of sources on the ground in Syria.
Of the civilians killed, 209 people — about half of them children — were killed by mines or other explosive devices.
In addition, 627 government security force personnel were killed along with 217 other fighters loyal to the regime of Bashar Assad, the Observatory said.
Some 387 members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces and their allies were also among the dead, as well as more than 500 terrorists
The director of the Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, said a large number of the deaths occurred due to security chaos, dozens of strikes launched by Israel, and attacks by Daesh in the Syrian desert.
The war has killed nearly half a million people since it broke out over a decade ago, displacing almost half of Syria’s pre-war population.
Assad has retaken most of the territory initially lost to rebel groups, though the SDF — which the regime maintains a degree of cooperation with — continues to control areas in the north and northeast.
Turkey, a key player in the war, has repeatedly threatened to launch a ground offensive against the Syrian Kurds in recent months, having already pursued three such offensives previously.
In addition, about half of the northwestern province of Idlib and areas bordering the neighboring provinces of Hama, Aleppo and Latakia are dominated by the jihadist group Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham and other rebel factions.
CAIRO: The Daesh group said Saturday that it carried out a deadly attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia the previous day.
“A cell of soldiers of the caliphate managed to attack an Egyptian police roadblock… with a machine gun,” the jihadist group’s Amaq news agency said.
Three Egyptian policemen were killed in the attack, the first of its kind in nearly three years in mainland Egypt, which has largely been spared the deadly insurgency in the nearby Sinai peninsula.
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia condemned the attack.
In the past few years, attacks against Egyptian security forces have been concentrated in the Sinai, where jihadists affiliated with Daesh operate.
Eleven soldiers were killed on May 7 in an attack in western Sinai.
Days later, another five soldiers and seven jihadists died when the army was attacked in the peninsula.
Ismailia is one of the key cities overlooking Egypt’s Suez Canal, a vital waterway between Asia and Europe that sees about 10 percent of the world’s maritime trade.
SULAIMANIYAH: Police in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region said they had arrested 16 young men after a viral video showed a teenage girl being attacked at a motorcycle rally.
The incident took place in the suburbs of Sulaimaniyah, the Kurdistan region’s second city, where footage shared online showed dozens of young men and teenage boys following the girl before some of them assaulted her, kicking her against a car.
“Between yesterday evening and today, we arrested 16 suspects involved … in the assault of a young woman,” Sulaimaniyah police spokesman Sarkawt Omar told a press conference.
Police in Sulaimaniyah announced the arrest of seven people suspected of having kidnapped and sexually assaulted a young woman.
The victim was 17 years old, he added, noting that three of the suspects arrested had filmed the incident and posted it on social media.
He added that this was not the first time that girls or women attended such an event.
While Kurdistan works on projecting a more progressive and tolerant image than other areas of Iraq, gender-based violence remains prevalent.
On Tuesday, police in Sulaimaniyah announced the arrest of seven people suspected of having kidnapped and sexually assaulted a young woman.
The Kurdish authorities denounced the “disgraceful” and “unacceptable” assaults in a statemen, underlining that they were “against all kinds of violence and violations of human rights in general, including women’s rights.”


By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *