The Importance of Effective Investment in Think Tanks

Omar al-Obaidly – Al-Hayat – 5th September 2017

The concept of think tanks arose in Western nations during the twentieth century, after the the founding of the first such institute in the United Kingdom, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) at the beginning of the 19th century. Today in the United States there are more than a thousand think tanks, distinguished by gross budgets of billions of dollars, including public funds. What, then, is the best way to invest this money?

This question has become important in the countries of the Gulf, since they have begun to follow the Western example with regard to think tanks. A number of new think tanks have been established in countries like Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, engaging with strategic and economic issues. These institutes are charged with building local skills, because the near-absolute reliance on foreign consultants for support in decision-making has become a thorny topic, especially in the light of the recent and continuing escalation of regional tensions.

In order to lay down general principles on the best means for effective investment in think tanks, the role which these institutes play must firstly be noted. Specifically, think tanks support decision-making primarily by installing experts who devote their efforts to studying daily strategic issues, and provide analysis and recommendations to decision-makers. These experts are not involved in the daily work of government, which precludes employees of government agencies from spending the necessary time and effort to study strategic developments deeply.

In the charter of the majority of these new think tanks, there is an article stating the importance of consolidating cooperative relationships with global think tanks, because researchers in the Gulf think tanks cannot propose effective policies to decision-makers unless they have a strong global network. Their international contacts feed them pivotal knowledge about what other governments are thinking, while global institutes grant the Gulf think tanks access to cooperation with decision-makers in other nations, in addition to foreign peoples through media events. By way of example, one of the reason’s for Iran’s speed in seizing the economic opportunities which were presented to it after the nuclear deal was the strength of the relationship between Iranian and Western think tanks, which laid the foundations deals between global and Iranian companies.

In the past, when interacting with Western organisations, Gulf think tanks have focused on joint events, like conferences, and seminars. They would also entrust Western experts with conducting rigorous studies on issues which are important to the Gulf countries. Such policies represented a logical first step, given the relative weakness of Gulf research staff, which can only be described as having limited expertise in conducting rigorous study in support of decision-making.

However, we must now proceed to the second stage, which is cooperation with Western think tanks by way of research exchange and joint studies. Countries like Saudi Arabia have invested a great deal in the development of their citizens, for example through the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, and there are now many Saudi researchers capable of undertaking rigorous studies into strategic issues. What are the additional benefits, then, which are achieved when relationships progress from joint events to joint studies?

Firstly, senior researchers are greatly concerned with their scholarly reputations. When they cooperate with Gulf researchers, the relationship between the two parties deepens, while creating a joint and sustainable advantage, because research in the age of the Internet does not vanish, unlike conferences and seminars, which may be quickly forgotten after they are held. Secondly, joint studies are considered one of the best methods of developing the abilities of researchers, because after a doctorate, progress in the field of scientific research can only be achieved through practice. Working with a foreign researcher offers an opportunity for rapid development since their expertise in scientific research is greater and deeper than Gulf experts. Thirdly, the previous focus on joint events at the expense of research cooperation has generated an image among foreigners that Gulf citizens are merely rich and uncultured people whom they can exploit. Thus, some inaccurate Western conceptions about the Gulf persist, for example, that they are terrorists, or regressive, which contributes to legislation which is harmful to Gulf interests, such as JASTA. Thus, cooperative research projects should be launched, partially to combat this perception, and to convince Western authorities and citizens that people of the Gulf are peaceful and cultured, and able to contribute to the development of solutions to global security and economic problems.

To be specific, Gulf think tanks must urge their researchers to conduct joint studies with their Western counterparts. All traditional means should be utilised, such as financial incentives, and the implementation of joint research as a criterion for promotion, as well as the use of non-typical means, such as the establishment of an award for best joint study between Western and Gulf researchers, and giving those researchers a chance to discuss their work on well-known television programmes. It would also be very beneficial to adopt parallel programmes in the field of academic research, an area complementary to research emerging from think tanks, in addition to using the Gulf branches of Western universities, for example, the University of New York in Abu Dhabi, as a starting point.

It is now time for effective investment in think tanks, for the Gulf researcher to develop their service for the people, by building strong intellectual bridges with their Western counterparts, progressing beyond joint events.

Translated by Conor Fagan

Original article found here.

Al-Nasiri’s notebooks on Iraq, art, and the distraction of the living


Haifa Zankana

Dozens of books are published each year in Iraq, most of them by Americans who were, or still are, serving in the American army. They participated for varying lengths of time, whether directly in the invasion or the fighting, or indirectly, in the ransacking termed ‘the reconstruction of civil society’. These ‘experiences’ are presented, in English, to the world from the perspective of the occupier as liberator bearing the burden of a humanitarian mission or an adventure. Its members are associated by an extraordinary friendship which is misunderstood by the people of the occupied country, and they are there to defend the people from ‘insurgents and terrorists’ or as a military lesson in combatting uprising, which deserves to be taught to future generations of imperialist, expansionist forces.

A simple statistic which invites remark is the number of books published since the 2003 invasion, and even today, in contrast to the scarcity from the pre-invasion period, which laid the groundwork for the largest American military aggression since its defeat in Vietnam in the 1970s. This statistic applies both to Iraqi and Arabic publishing. The number of published books by independent Iraqis about the period following the thirtieth attack after the occupation of Kuwait, and the subjection of Iraq to a combat siege, does not exceed the number of fingers on one hand. Perhaps the closest to the hearts of readers, traversing the borders of Iraq to the world, are the ‘Baghdad Diaries’ by the late artist Nuha al-Radi, which documented, daily, humanly, the comprehensive crimes against the people, crimes which wished to be forgotten, which were disguised under cover of steel, for fear of one day being given responsibility.

This cover can be penetrated from time to time, in the shape of those sticks of dynamite labelled ‘books’. For books, manufactured from paper, have tremendous ability to break fetters, whatever material they are made from. Their strength transcends the limits of place and time, if they are philosophical, creative, literary and artistic works by artists whom ideology has failed to mould, who retain their words and their colours, and independent lives, like chaos that cannot be tamed. Colours here meaning in their ordinary, visual sense, and not metaphorical. In his novel German Lesson published in 1968, the German novelist Siegfried Lenz examined the danger of colour to the Nazi regime. The hero of the novel is a policeman living in a remote German village, whose only concern is the performance of his duties, including when he is ordered to surveil and prevent his childhood friend from painting. The policeman doesn’t understand the reason behind this, or the source of the danger, as his friend draws only abstraact paintings. He asks his friend for an explanation before he arrests him. “It is the colours…It is the colours”, comes the response.

On the strength of colour and the path of a life filled with creativity and love, I am reading Artist’s Notebooks, one of the few books capable of illuminating the period of Iraqi history which some would like to banish to a dark corner, unmentioned. The book is characterised as the product of the life of a complete team, composed of two people who are gathered (I use the present tense purposely) by a lasting love showing genuinely artistic and poetic Iraqi creativity. These two are the late artist Rafa al-Nasiri and his life partner, the poet and art critic May Muzaffar. Muzaffar supervised the preparation of the book with Sonia Timberland, and its introduction and publication in English, in a fine edition whose detailed attention to the value of each colour gradation gives the book vitality. In the introduction to the book, May Muzaffar remains faithful to the idea of artistic connection which she addressed in her book, Modern Art in Iraq: Connection and Differentiation. She applies those ideas this time to the life journey of Rafa al-Nasiri, with its various junctures, and his ‘notebooks’ which include his colour and intellectual diaries across the decades. It is a journey that began, and continued for the two together, on a solid ground “On which was set down a series of great civilisations…It seems that all these civilisations have been rooted in the experience of the Iraqi artist, and deeply etched in his visual memory. This has helped him to adopt a clear intellectual position on art and its many functions,” as Rafa describes in his book, Perspectives and Mirrors: Essays in Visual Art.

Rafa says about the notebooks: “In 1989, I acquired in Beijing a collection of folded notebooks measuring approximately 625x35cm. And after my return to Baghdad, I painted some of these notebooks with my fingers, a Chinese method of ink painting, using acrylic instead of ink. Each notebook is dedicated to a place that I loved, including the Tikrit notebook, the Beijing notebook, the Lisbon notebook, and the Asilah notebook.”

Over the years, the notebooks grew larger, resembling carvings so large the viewer must turn to see the entirety of. They include works celebrating poetry and art, from al-Mutanabbi and al-Wasati, to al-Jawahiri, Mahmoud Darwish, Etel Adnan and May Muzaffar. The Baghdad notebook preserves the city’s art and poetry: “In 1991, during the war, I painted a notebook of the same size, and it is an expression of the protest and resistance, painted in black and brown, of course, with my palms and fingers, which I dipped in colours and struck the paper with quick and emotional movements.” These angry colours, charged with emotion, made al-Nasiri not know sleep, and words appeared. We can almost hear them. They are the voice of an artist screaming amidst the distraction of the living. With black palm and fingers separated by a red-coloured palm, we see “it is a dirty war.” With the explosion of palms coloured black and grey and spatterings of shades of red, we see “Baghdad groaning from her wounds.” The marrying of violet with borders or smears of black are like the effect of depleted uranium, and we see “Baghdad living in terror, horror, panic, fear, anger and hatred… from 11 at night until 4 in the morning. Five hours of shelling and iron and gunpowder between terrifying sounds of the planes and missiles.”

The 2nd March entry in the Baghdad notebook includes the figure 43 written in a large childish scrawl, in almost impermeable ink, and four semi-aligned black dots in empty space. In the right corner is a drop of red ink, and beside it the number 91. We read: “forty-three days of war…war…Not the first or the second.. but it is unique war. It is not the third, but it is…war (THE WAR).
It ended… and then began the worst and the darkest.”

What we realise well, now, is that 1991 was the year which prefaced the destruction which Iraq is still living in the shadow of today. So can the artist see beyond what others see?

Translated by Conor Fagan

Original article found here.

The Dispute Between al-Houthi and Saleh

Saleh and al-Houthi

24 August 2017 – Al-Ayyam (Yemen)

Ali Abdullah Saleh rose to the presidency in the Yemen Arab Republic as the result of a political and security vacuum which the greatest political and security figures refused to conceal, fearing for their lives and their careers. Ali Abdullah Saleh accepted the position of President of the Yemen Arab Republic under extremely dangerous conditions, with a close strategic alliance with Sheikh Abdullah Ibn Hussein al-Ahmar of the Hashid tribe.

After Yemeni unification on 22 May 1990, unity was linked with political pluralism, freedom of the press and increasing activity of civil organisations. The two Yemeni partners in unification, the Council of Representatives and the Yemeni Republic authorities, split power between themselves. After a year and a half, differences emerged between Presdient Saleh and his deputy, Ali Salem al-Beidh, power disputes in which the president and his senior aides in the military and political institutions were accustomed to monopolising power and exercising control over the economic capabilities of the Yemen Republic.

Al-Beidh’s movement felt repeatedly marginalised and excluded from power. The political and security situation worsened and the efforts of internal and external intermediaries proved fruitless, including the mediation of King Hussein bin Talal, which resulted in an agreement signed by many parties and political organisations in addition to the Yemeni Socialist Party and the General People’s Congress. The ink was barely dry when war broke out in 1994. Al-Beidh’s side was defeated by Saleh with the support of the Hashid tribe and Hizb al-Islah, in addition to the support which Saleh garnered from outside Yemen.

In 2011, the youth revolution began, participated in by a number of political parties, including Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi’s group, Ansar Allah, and General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar’s support for the revolution marked a turning point. These changes forced Ahmad Ali Abdullah Saleh to coordinate with Ansar Allah, led by al-Houthi. This alliance resulted in the fall of Amran and Sanaa and the First Armoured Division, which submitted to the leadership of Muhsin al-Ahmar. President Hadi was placed under house arrest to pressure him through fear and enticement into assisting al-Ahmar, al-Houthi and Saleh’s agenda. Hadi, defiant, was able to escape, and building on the request from Foreign Minister Riad Yassin, Hadi formed the Arab Nation Alliance, led by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.

The southern and eastern governorates were liberated from the Republican Guard, Central Security and Houthi militias, but these forces remain in control of Sanaa, Dhamar, Amran, Saada, al-Jawf, al-Mahwit, Ibb, Raymah, Hudaydah, as well as a number of districts in Hajjah and Taiz.

The conflict between Saleh and al-Houthi is a conflict of economic interests and a dispute about influence, and how each side imposes their political agenda on the other, a dispute which will erupt, sooner or later. Victory in a number of factors in the dispute will lead to one side overcoming the other. Those factors include the role of the tribes in Sanaa and the other governorates, in addition to the the support which Saleh and al-Houthi must gain to resolve the conflict between themselves by military strength.

Dr Fuad Said al-Matiri

Translated by Conor Fagan

Original article can be found here.

In Focus: Water – The Expensive Oil of the Future

Tareq Ashqar – 17th August 2017 – Al-Watan (Oman)

tarekashkarResearch by Dr Saif ibn Ali ibn Salim al-Khamisi, which was presented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, has been ranked third place in the Arab nations for excellency in water research, as publicised by the front pages of Omani newspapers yesterday. This achievement can be considered as a quality addition to the successes of the General Directorate for Animal and Agricultural Research in various fields, especially to the field of best water usage in Oman.

And while the success of the study, which carries the title “Proposed use of treated water and groundwater in crop cycles,” can be considered a coronation of the efforts expended by the Ministry through the General Directorate – which seeks to devise the best methods of water resource conservation, through optimal irrigation – this success also reflects the level of awareness in the Sultanate of the vital need to continue serious scientific research, specifically around water. The increased interest in water research in the Sultanate has coincided with the widening global awareness of rising water scarcity and increasing need for water as population growth intensifies. These factors are especially apparent in the Levant which is considered, along with all the countries in the Near East and North Africa, to have the lowest share of fresh water per capita, which has led the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to launch what is known as the regional project “Implementing the 2030 Agenda for water efficiency/productivity and water sustainability in NENA countries”.

So the study “Proposed use of treated water and groundwater in crop cycles”, if the FAO is aware of it, could be one of the foundations on which the FAO initiative to ensure efficient productivity and water sustainability in the region is based, especially if this international organisation fights to resolve the problems of the region through three of its own initiatives, namely the Regional Initiative on Food Security, the Regional Initiative on Water Scarcity, and the Regional Initiative on Small-scale Farming.

In light of the importance of water, and the day-after-day intensification of the region’s suffering due to lack of it, experts expect water to become a strategic commodity more expensive than oil in the foreseeable future. The region is experiencing economic and manufacturing growth, and will face increasing need for fresh water, as it is a fundamental component in many food and pharmaceutical industries. The region is also experiencing an increase in population growth, and so expansion of scientific research like this is considered essential in these times. On top of all that, the widening awareness of the concept of sustainability in all fields of development adds qualitative value to this type of scientific research, to the point where we can consider this research, by virtue of its topic, an aid for guidance in the use of water for the sake of future generations, which is the primary goal of sustainability.

In any case, the current stage is the most appropriate to fund additional research which would plumb the depths of water issues, especially while many experts believe that water in the future will have a strategic position no less important than the strategic importance of oil today, which occupies and governs the details of people’s lives.

Translated by Conor Fagan

Original article can be found here.

Washington relying on Moscow to curb Iran’s influence

Al-Hayat – 11th August – Raghida Dergham

For a multitude of national and regional reasons, the Kurdish national aspirations clash with Iranian, Turkish and Arab obstacles. Disputes and clashes are increasing between conflicting projects and the noise of oratory about division in Iraq and sharing in Syria. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has begun building a wall on the Turkish-Iranian border to prevent Kurdish activists from infiltrating Turkey, and has promised another wall on the border with Iraq, similar to the Syrian border wall. Masoud Barzani, president of Iraqi Kurdistan, explained that he considers it impossible to reconsider the organisation of referendum on the region’s independence, and pledged that he would not allow the Popular Mobilisation Forces, who are supported by Iran, to enter Kurdistan. Barzani spoke about the Iranian project, and said that “the Iranian authorities have openly declared their success in opening a Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Beirut route”. He refused to hold the Kurds responsible for the division of Iraq, noting that “it is a sectarian war, and the [divided Iraqi] state has no sovereignty”.

Regardless of whether the Kurdish independence referendum officially instated the division of Iraq, that division had already come thanks to the war of George W. Bush in Iraq, pro-Tehran former prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and the sectarian Popular Mobilisation Forces, an Iraqi force after the model of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. It was striking this week that Iranian president Hassan Rouhani was the first in nearly a quarter-century to withdraw the defence portfolio from the leader of the Revolutionary Guard, instead assigning it to an officer in the regular army. However, this move remains mostly symbolic as long as Iran retains its armed militias and units in Arab lands, given that all of these are under the command of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and its extremist, expansionist plans. Henry Kissinger this week warned that Iran’s control over the lands which have been liberated from ISIS could lead to the establishment of a “radical Iranian empire,” resulting in a “territorial belt stretching from Tehran to Beirut”. Trump’s administration is unclear on whether it intends to submit to a radical Iranian imperial belt, or if it would expose it and prevent its establishment in the field. Until now, it appears that the Trump administration has charged Russia with the issue of Iran and its militias in Syria. What is remarkable is the increase in Russian leaks to writers and researchers in Russian intellectual institutions, to produce the idea that Moscow is striving for a political solution in Syria and that its efforts are being hindered by Iran who want to continue the war. Is this a message, or a distribution of roles, or serious disagreements or differences in Russian-Iranian priorities, or is it a result of serious US pressure as a condition of the hoped-for deal between Moscow and Washington?

Expert in Islamic and international affairs Kirill Semonov has written an essay, “Iran hindering Russian solution in Syria”, for the site “Rageopolitica”, which was published by Al-Hayat last Wednesday. That was accompanied by another article by Anton Mardasov, the head of the Department of Middle Eastern Conflicts at the Institute for Innovative Development, on the same topic, entitled “Tehran is for continuation of the war, Russia is for a political solution”. Generally, the publication of Russian articles with this perspective means either that this is the Russian political mentality, or that this is what the Syrian leadership wish to market for its own political and strategic goals.

The connotation of what Semonov wrote is interesting, as he speaks of Iran’s strengthening of the “Shi’ite Corridor” (between Iran and the Mediterranean, across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon) and “the movement of the conflict in Syria to confrontation on a new level”. “Moscow, which is committed to a peaceful compromise in the Syrian conflict, does not want Syria to be gradually transformed into a Shi’ite Iranian colony at the hands of the Ayatollahs, given that the sectarian-ethnic conflict is one of the elements on which Islamist extremist propaganda is based… In public circles, there are obvious indicators of a discrepancy between Russia and Iran.” He noted that Tehran did not call for the meetings which were held in Amman and Cairo, “but the Iranians are capable of thwarting these agreements, and of ratifying separate agreements in Syria, as they did in March with the truce. The blame will fall on Russia, the largest player, and it will be taken that they did not influence their allies in the best manner.” Semonov said that Tehran “wants to continue the fighting”.

What is particularly notable is that the Russian expert in Idlib himself called on “Russia and Turkey to hasten an agreement on measures to support the moderate opposition in its struggle against extremists in Idlib, before Tehran and Damascus begin to attack Idlib under the pretext that extremist positions are being reinforced”. He concluded saying “Iran sees that the solution requires overcoming the armed opposition and wants Russia to support it in this endeavour. However, Moscow desires a peaceful political resolution”.

As for Anton Mardasov, he opens his article stating “Tehran is striving to drag Moscow towards a new round of civil war”. He pointed to the proximity of Russian and Iranian goals at the beginning of the Russian intervention in Syria, “but the gap between the two countries has gradually started to widen as Russia seeks to negotiate a stable ceasefire with the armed Syrian opposition”. Mardasov spoke of the Russian-Iranian rivalry east of Aleppo, where Moscow hopes to “spread security and stability”, as he says, while “Tehran has begun to consolidate its power and expand the ranks of loyal militias”. The opening of Iranian religious centres in Aleppo “is fueling the conflict on the basis of ethnicity and religion”.

These messages, perhaps, are directed at Washington, to impress Russian difficulties in containing Iran’s ambitions, and to force Trump’s administration to recognise the high cost if Russia decided to sever its ground alliance with Iran, and the price in the Crimea, where Moscow insists that Washington recognise that it has recovered Russian territory. Moscow differs from Tehran in how the Russians approach their messages, since the Iranian plan in Syria is very different from the Russian. Moscow is not prepared to dispense with its strategic relationship with Tehran unless it is fully sure that the Iranian plan will plunge it into the quagmire of civil war in Syria, nor is it prepared for a Russian-American deal.

Washington is relying on Russia to curb the Iranian hegemony in Syria, either since it trusts that Moscow is able to do so, if it desires, or because it sees that the problem is a Russian problem, and not an American one. The most important thing currently for the Trump administration is the longed-for crush of ISIS and its like, in partnership with anyone, and then some, for every recent incident. The Syrian regime forces’ recovery of Deir az-Zour and its surrender of the Syria-Iraq border to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard raised no American objections. The impression given is that Washington pretended not to notice, and tacitly approved of it. Deir az-Zour is an important region for the corridor connecting Tehran and the Mediterranean, and even now, Washington has not implemented any actual steps to oppose the establishment of a “Persian Crescent” which it and Israel claim to oppose.

Confidence in the US is low for all those who cooperate with it, and all sides are prepared for the possibility that the US will dispense with them once American goals are achieved – such is the American reputation. The mainly-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces believe that its interests require a focus on preserving Kurdish territories through mutual understandings with Damascus and Moscow. A deal with Bashar al-Assad is certain to rely on American promises, which may fluctuate with the relationship with Turkey.

Thus the Syrian Democratic Forces aspire to a deal in which they hand over Raqqa to regime forces in exchange for a promise by al-Assad for an autonomous Kurdish administration in Syrian Kurdish territories. The Kurds question the American pledges and complain that America’s priority with the Kurds will be within the remit of the relations with NATO member Turkey, which Washington may need to control Iranian expansion in the Middle East, and to determine the fate of Idlib, as some claim.

Russia fears that Tehran and Damascus will exploit the situation in Idlib with an armed attack, resulting in a new alliance between the moderate opposition and the extremists. The Russian idea is to charge the moderate opposition with eliminating the extremist opposition, as they want to block any Iranian efforts or regime adventures in Idlib. Turkey has a number of links to the fate of Idlib, as it is accused of offering safe harbour to extremists therein. Russia is currently attempting to coordinate with Turkey, giving the impression of a dispute with Iran, but these are merely temporary transitional partnerships on the Syrian battlefields.

So far, despite Russia’s acknowledgement of differences with Iranian plans, there have been no signs of any qualitative shift in the Iranian-Russian alliance towards a strategic break. As long as Washington gets along with any alliance in Syria under the banner of fighting terrorism – a label mainly adopted by Damascus – Russia will take the lead on managing developments, determining whether rapprochement with Turkey or divergence from Iranian plans in Syria are in its interest, developments which determine the fate of the Syrian opposition as a whole. Thus the Kurds and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces turn are inclining toward Russia. However, in the end Iran is not a transient issue in the fate of Syria, and its cross-border plans need Syrian territory. The execution of these plans will not be stopped without a Russian-American-Israeli resolution, which remains to be adopted.

Translated by Conor Fagan

Original article found here.

Flames destroy dozens of hectares in Algeria

Civil defence units have registered more than 150 fires during the last two days in a number of northern provinces in Algeria, during an intense heat wave affecting most of the provinces, most notably Blida, Tizi Ouzo, Béjaïa, Boumerdès, Skikda, and El Taref.

Assistant Director of Statistics and Information, Colonel Ashour Farouk, said in a statement for Algerian radio on Thursday that the fires are affecting forests in the mountains, jungle and agricultural crops, especially fig and olive trees, and grape vines. He added that the fires have burned more than 888 hectares of forest in the past 24 hours. He revealed that in the period between 1 June and 26 July, a total of 1028 fires were reported, resulting in the destruction of 2423 forested areas, 2682 hectares of jungle, 1347 hectares of agricultural crops and more than 118,000 fruit-bearing trees. The spokesperson attributed the cause of these fires to “the high temperatures and wind speed” which greatly contributed to the outbreak of the fires, and their rapid advancement, which has forced the civil defence and the security forces to cooperate, under the command of Algerian army forces, to rescue the lands from the flames.

The Algerian civil defence has called on civilians to “adhere to preventative rules to avoid sun stroke, due to the high temperatures expected in coming days”, with forecasters predicting a significant increase in temperature.

Algeria Heat Wave 1

Fires destroy forest resources

Doctors have issued instructions to avoid exposure to sun rays, especially for children, the elderly, and people with chronic illnesses, stay in shade as much as possible, avoid journeys unless when absolutely necessary, and to only go out in the early morning or late evening, particularly in the inland provinces.

Algeria Heat Wave 2

Fire suppression efforts

Specialists also stressed the importance of drinking water regularly, especially children and the elderly, and not to wait for thirst to strike.

It is worth mentioning that Algeria witnessed dozens of fires across a number of provinces in the month of July, resulting in the destruction of thousands of hectares of agricultural land and elimination of animal resources, especially in Tizi Oubo, Boumerdès, and Jijel, while the Algerian government pledged to provide material compensation to those afflicted.

Algeria Heat Wave 3

The government has pledged to provide compensation for those affected

The heat in Algeria has also caused the repeated interruption of power lines, because of the widespread consumption of electricity for air conditioning and cooling devices, which prompted the Algerian Electrical and Gas Company to issue guidelines to citizens on reasonable consumption.

Translated by Conor Fagan

Original article can be found here.

Qatar’s decisions: the present will inform the future

Al-Bilad (Bahrain) – 29 July 2017 – Faten Hamza

Qatar decisions

Faten Hamza

It appears as though Qatar does not wish to bow down to the Riyadh Agreement, as so far nothing has come of it. Qatar’s decisions and statements are still meagre and shaken, and report the extent of the confusion currently affecting Qatar, despite the role played by the boycott, and its continuing effects. Many of the Gulf newspapers note that the four countries which sponsor terrorism will not accept the existence of this fragile and confused entity in the region, and are anticipating a new round of escalations after Qatar ignored Arab demands and continued on its destructive path!

The Qatari position has become clear, and its repetitiveness has deepened the crisis. We had hoped that Qatar would put forth initiatives calling for communication, instead of sticking with its unwelcome policies, which day by day increase its isolation.

Qatar today needs more wisdom and reason instead of obstinacy and stubbornness in order to leave this all behind without losses for which the Qatari people will pay, and this will not be realised unless it reconciles with the other countries of the region. A reliance on external solutions will not solve the crisis. Instead it will intensify it, or could entangle Qatar in matters which will have unintended consequences. Its support for terrorism and hostile groups in the region is an unacceptable matter, and will see Qatar falling into unforeseen and isolated circumstances.

Qatar is still existing on cunning or recycled promises from overseas, which have attempted to incite or strengthen Qatar with illusions, and increase its resolve to persevere with its hostile policies. It is in the interests of several countries to push this dispute and the continuation of conflict and sedition, to achieve their plans to scatter and sow discord in the region, and facilitate the imposition of their interventions.

If these voices of support and praise remain present, unfortunately there will be mixed among righteous people those who lose who lack insight and wish to impose their own agendas, for whom the important thing is that matters proceed according to their desires. We hope that we can pass through this ordeal peacefully and that all of the unjust and stubborn people will realise what is coming as a result of their intransigence, which will inevitably fall on the shoulders of the innocent lost between right and wrong.

Translated by Conor Fagan

Original article can be found here.

Statement by Speaker of the House of Representatives: rest assured that we will provide medical care to victims of the Hurghada incident

Hurghada stabbing

Doctor Ali Abdel Aal

Hisham Abd al-Jalil – Al-Youm al-Sabi’ – 20th July 2017

Doctor Ali Abdel Aal, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has visited the German tourists injured in the Hurghada terrorist attack in the Nasser Institute Hospital. He was accompanied by Deputy Secretary-General of the House, Mohammad Nasir, Mohammad al-Suwaidi, head of the Egypt Support Coalition, MP Sahar Talaat Mustafa, chairwoman of the Tourism Committee, MP Mohammed Ali Yusuf, chairman of the Small Enterprise Committee, and a number of other members of the House.

During the visit, the Speaker and his accompanying delegation on every case in the hospital, and assured that all necessary medical care would be provided to the injured, and wished them a speedy recovery.

Translated by Conor Fagan

Original article found here.

Parliamentary majority in cooperation with government forms committee to search for solutions to the al-Warraq crisis

al-Warraq crisis

Mohammad al-Suwaidi, head of Egypt Support Coalition

Mohammad Majda el-Sisi – al-Youm al-Sabi’ – 20th July 2017

The Egypt Support Coalition has issued a statement in which it confirmed that it is carefully watching the events occuring on al-Warraq island in the Giza governorate. It stressed that it had formed a committee to follow this crisis through communication with all executive bodies and security services, and will also communicate with a number of the popular leaders on al-Warraq.

In its statement, the coalition also confirmed that its earnestly striving to solve this problem legally and respectfully, by granting legal status anyone who possesses legal documents proving the truth of their position. It will also work to ensure the safety of small families living on the island.

At the same time, the coalition also emphasised the need for law enforcement, and its application to rule-breakers on state lands.

Translated by Conor Fagan

Original article found here.



Jordan welcomes Palestinian-Israeli Agreement

Red-Dead Water ProjectNorma Na’mat – Al-Hayat – 14th July 2017

Hazem al-Naser, the Jordanian Minister for Water and Irrigation, has praised the Palestinian-Israeli agreement which was reached between the two sides yesterday in Jerusalem, under the care of the United States. He noted that it represents a Palestinian claim to the results of the memorandum of understanding on the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance, which was signed by Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel in Washington in December 2013 and witnessed by the US government and the World Bank. The memorandum granted the Palestinian side more than 30 million cubic metres of water annually.

al-Naser believes that this agreement “has achieved for our Palestinian brothers and sisters additional water supplies over what has they are granted by the Oslo accords and what followed them, in addition to Palestine’s sovereign water rights.” He emphasised that the new supplies “will provide the West Bank and Gaza with additional water supplies beginning this summer until 2021, which will ease the large water burden affecting the Palestinians.” Al-Naser committed to the continuation of “Jordanian efforts which have been expended in this matter, building on the unshakeable Jordanian desire to support the Palestinians and empower them in all cases. Water, especially, in the West Bank and Gaza, is one of these cases, as there has been an acute shortage of drinking water in these areas in years past.” He explained that “the implementation of subsequent stages of the Conveyance project will guarantee additional benefits for the Palestinians if implemented.”

Jordan, as the first country to implement the project, is greatly concerned with the plan, as it forms one of the most important pillars of Jordan’s water strategy. The project will supply Jordan with drinking water for many years to come, while also protecting the environment of the Dead Sea, which is considered a historical treasure and important economic resource for the country.

Translated by Conor Fagan

Original article found here.