Kuwait’s Government Resigns

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Kuwait’s Government Resigns

Thursday, 14 November, 2019 – 11:30
Kuwait government spokesman Tareq al-Mazrem. KUNA
Asharq Al-Awsat
Kuwait’s prime minister has submitted his cabinet’s resignation to the Emir, a government spokesman said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah “submitted the resignation of the cabinet to the emir… in order to allow for a cabinet reshuffle,” government spokesman Tareq al-Mazrem said in a statement.

Minister of Finance Nayef al-Hajraf and Minister of Public Works Jenan Bushehri resigned this month.

The resignation came after Kuwaiti lawmakers on Tuesday submitted a motion for a no-confidence vote against Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid al-Jarrah Al-Sabah.

Differences Between Iraq, Kuwait over Border Issues

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Differences Between Iraq, Kuwait over Border Issues

Wednesday, 4 September, 2019 – 11:15
Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Sahhaf (MOFA)
Baghdad – Fadhel al-Nashmi
Iraq’s Foreign Ministry acknowledged Tuesday sending two identical letters to the UN secretary-general and president of the UN security council on controversial border issues with Kuwait. It also referred to a similar letter sent earlier by Kuwait in this regard.

Contrary to the convulsive statements made by Kuwaiti and Iraqi deputies in light of the complaint submitted, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, through its spokesman Ahmad Sahhaf, appeared to have sought to “calmly” deal with the issue.

In a statement, of which Asharq Al-Awsat has received a copy, Sahhaf said that there is a “legal dispute with Kuwait over dealing with a maritime border issue between the two countries.”

“It is in dealing with a border site which we refer to as (base) while the Kuwaiti side refers to it as (island) as the baseline adopted in drawing the maritime border between the two countries at a certain point after sign 162,” he explained.

He also pointed to the ongoing negotiations on the specific point of view.

It is noteworthy that Iraq has already expressed its objection over Kuwait’s unilateral construction projects in the disputed area.

“Kuwait has sent letters to the UN on its position in this regard, prompting Iraq to send identical letters to both the UN secretary-general and president of the UN security council,” Sahhaf explained.

Iraq’s goal is to indicate the legal interpretation of the situation, which would most probably serve Iraq’s favor, Sahhaf added.

Press reports in Kuwait quoted Monday UN diplomatic sources as saying that the Iraqi Permanent Representative to the UN, Mohammed Bahr al-Uloom, delivered a letter to the president of the Security Council requesting it to be circulated as an official document.

Reports added that the Iraqi government has called on the UN to document its official complaint against Kuwait’s’ geographical changes carried out in the maritime area after the sign 162 in Khor Abdullah by installing a port structure over Fisht Al-Eij area unilaterally without taking Iraq’s consent.

Latest developments between Iraq and Kuwait take place after years of calm and communication, which followed a long rivalry as a result of Saddam Hussein’s occupation of Kuwait in 1990.

(Persian) Gulf Acquisitions, Mergers Grow by 39 Percent

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Gulf Acquisitions, Mergers Grow by 39 Percent

Sunday, 28 April, 2019 – 08:45
General view of Aramco’s Ras Tanura oil refinery and oil terminal in Saudi Arabia May 21, 2018. (Reuters)
London – Mutlaq Muneer
The number of merger and acquisition deals (M&As) in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) grew 39 percent year-on-year during the first quarter of 2019, according to a report released by Kuwait Financial Center (MARKAZ) on Saturday.

The Saudi market topped the Arabian Gulf markets in terms of M&As in Q1-19, in which the sector witnessed Aramco’s 70 percent acquisition of SABIC in a deal worth USD69.1 billion.

In January, the Kuwait Finance House (KFH) said it gave initial approval for the average of stock exchange with AUB Bahrain at a rate of 2.33 shares of AUB’s in return for one share in KFH, added the report.

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), listed on Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX), announced last month that its general assembly approved its merger with Union National Bank (UNB).

Italy’s Eni and Austria’s OMV will collectively acquire a 35 percent stake in ADNOC Refining for an estimated USD5.8 billion, whereby ADNOC will retain the remaining 65 percent stake in the company. KKR and BlackRock have acquired a 40 percent stake in ADNOC Oil Pipelines, an entity that will lease ADNOC’s interest in 18 pipelines for 23 years.

GCC acquirers accounted for 60 percent of the total number of transactions during Q1 2019 and 75 percent during Q4 2018. Foreign acquirers accounted for 34 percent of the total number of transactions during Q1 2019 and 17 percent during Q4 2018. Buyer information was not available for 6 percent of the transactions in Q1 2019.

Each of the GCC acquirers seemed to have a different appetite with regards to M&A transactions during Q1 2019.

Kuwaiti acquirers preferred investing in their home country. Saudi acquirers mostly invested in their home country and equally between other GCC countries and outside the GCC. UAE acquirers mostly invested outside the GCC and within their home country. Bahraini acquirers only invested outside the GCC. Qatari and Omani acquirers each engaged in one acquisition in their respective countries.

Q1 2019 witnessed a 70 percent increase in the number of completed transactions by foreign buyers compared to Q1 2018. In comparison to Q4 2018, the number of such transactions grew by 89 percent.

UAE targets represented 71 percent of the closed transactions by foreign acquirers during Q1 2019, while Saudi Arabia and Kuwait represented 23 percent and 6 percent respectively of the transactions during the same period. Bahraini, Omani and Qatari targets did not attract any foreign buyers during Q1 2019.

As per MARKAZ’s report, the industrial, financial and consumer sectors in the GCC accounted for 62 percent of M&As in the region during the first three months of 2019.

The media, insurance, telecommunication services and aviation sectors each accounted for 2 percent of the total closed transactions during Q1 2019, collectively amounting to 8 percent of the transactions during the period.

There was a total of 14 announced transactions in the pipeline during Q1 2019, representing a 27 percent increase in the number of announced transactions compared to Q4 2018.

UAE and Saudi Arabia collectively accounted for 79 percent of the announced transactions during Q1 2019. Oman and Qatar made up 21 percent of the announced transactions.

Kuwait: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Middle-Eastern Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Kuwait

Introduction Britain oversaw foreign relations and defense for the ruling Kuwaiti AL-SABAH dynasty from 1899 until independence in 1961. Kuwait was attacked and overrun by Iraq on 2 August 1990. Following several weeks of aerial bombardment, a US-led, UN coalition began a ground assault on 23 February 1991 that liberated Kuwait in four days. Kuwait spent more than $5 billion to repair oil infrastructure damaged during 1990-91. The AL-SABAH family has ruled since returning to power in 1991, and reestablished an elected legislature that in recent years has become increasingly assertive.
History The history of Kuwait goes back to the year 1612. Tribes from central Arabia settled in Kuwait under the suzerainty of the Banu Khaled in the 18th-century after experiencing massive drought in their native land. These tribes came to be known as the Utub of Qurain. Qurain, as Kuwait was known before, became a major center for spice trading between India and Europe. By late 18th-century, most of the local people made a living selling pearls. Because of internal conflicts and rivalry with the Wahhabis of the Arabian Peninsula, Benu Khaled’s influence over Kuwait gradually waned and the Utub gained greater independence. In 1756, the Utub elected Sabah I bin Jaber as the first emir of Kuwait. The current ruling family of Kuwait, al-Sabah, are descendants of Sabah I.

As the influence of the Ottoman Empire increased in the region, Kuwait was assigned the status of a caza of the Ottomans. After the signing of the Anglo-Ottoman Convention of 1913, then emir of Kuwait, Mubarak Al-Sabah, was diplomatically recognized by both the Ottomans and British as the ruler of the autonomous caza of the city of Kuwait and the hinterlands. The 1922 Treaty of Uqair set Kuwait’s border with Saudi Arabia and also established the Saudi-Kuwaiti neutral zone, an area of about 5,180 km² adjoining Kuwait’s southern border. Oil was first discovered in Kuwait in the 1930s and the government became more proactive in establishing internationally recognized boundaries. After World War I, the Ottoman Empire was financially crippled and the invading British forces invalidated the Anglo-Ottoman Convention, declaring Kuwait to be an “independent sheikdom under British protectorate”.

On June 19, 1961, Kuwait became fully independent following an exchange of notes between the United Kingdom and the then emir of Kuwait, Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah. The Gulf rupee, issued by the Reserve Bank of India, was replaced by the Kuwaiti dinar. The discovery of large oil fields, such as the Burgan field, triggered a large influx of foreign investments into Kuwait. The massive growth of the petroleum industry transformed Kuwait into one of the richest countries in the Arabian Peninsula and by 1952, the country became the largest exporter of oil in the Persian Gulf. This massive growth attracted many foreign workers, especially from Egypt and India. Kuwait settled its boundary disputes with Saudi Arabia and agreed on sharing equally the neutral zone’s petroleum reserves, onshore and offshore. After a brief stand-off over boundary issues, Iraq formally recognized Kuwait’s independence and its borders in October 1963. During the 1970s, the Kuwaiti government nationalized the Kuwait Oil Company, ending its partnership with Gulf Oil and British Petroleum. In 1982, Kuwait experienced a major economic crisis after the Souk Al-Manakh stock market crash.

USAF aircraft (F-16, F-15C and F-15E) fly over Kuwaiti oil fires, set by the retreating Iraqi army during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Kuwait had heavily funded Iraq’s eight year-long war with Iran. By the time the war ended, Kuwait decided not to forgive Iraq’s US$ 65 billion debt. An economic warfare between the two countries followed after Kuwait increased its oil production by 40 percent.Tensions between the two countries increased after Iraq alleged that Kuwait was slant drilling oil from its share of the Rumaila field.[17]. On 2 August, 1990 Iraqi forces invaded and annexed Kuwait. Saddam Hussein, then President of Iraq, deposed the emir of Kuwait, Jaber Al-Sabah, and installed Ali Hassan al-Majid as the new governor of Kuwait.[18] After a series of failed diplomatic negotiations, the United States-led coalition of thirty-four nations fought the Persian Gulf War to remove the Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The coalition successfully liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupation on February 26, 1991.[19] Kuwait paid the coalition forces US$17 billion for their war efforts.[20]

During their retreat, the Iraqi armed forces carried out a scorched earth policy by damaging 700 oil wells in Kuwait, of which approximately 600 were set on fire.[21] It was estimated that by the time Kuwait was liberated from Iraqi occupation, about 5 to 6 million barrels (950,000 m³) of oil was being burned in a single day because of these fires.Oil and soot accumulation had affected the entire Persian Gulf region and large oil lakes were created holding approximately 25 to 50 million barrels (7,900,000 m³) of oil[23] and covering 5% of Kuwait’s land area.[24] In total, about 11 million barrels (1,700,000 m³) of oil was released into the Persian Gulf[25] and an additional 2% of Kuwait’s 96 billion barrels (15,300,000,000 m³) of crude oil reserves were burned by the time the oil fires were brought under control.[26] The fires took more than nine months to extinguish fully and it took Kuwait more than 2 years and US$50 billion in infrastructure reconstruction to reach pre-invasion oil output. Kuwait has since largely recovered from the socio-economic, environmental, and public health effects of the Gulf war.

Geography Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Saudi Arabia
Geographic coordinates: 29 30 N, 45 45 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 17,820 sq km
land: 17,820 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than New Jersey
Land boundaries: total: 462 km
border countries: Iraq 240 km, Saudi Arabia 222 km
Coastline: 499 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: dry desert; intensely hot summers; short, cool winters
Terrain: flat to slightly undulating desert plain
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: unnamed location 306 m
Natural resources: petroleum, fish, shrimp, natural gas
Land use: arable land: 0.84%
permanent crops: 0.17%
other: 98.99% (2005)
Irrigated land: 130 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 0.02 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.44 cu km/yr (45%/2%/52%)
per capita: 164 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: sudden cloudbursts are common from October to April and bring heavy rain, which can damage roads and houses; sandstorms and dust storms occur throughout the year, but are most common between March and August
Environment – current issues: limited natural fresh water resources; some of world’s largest and most sophisticated desalination facilities provide much of the water; air and water pollution; desertification
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Marine Dumping
Geography – note: strategic location at head of Persian Gulf
People Population: 2,596,799
note: includes 1,291,354 non-nationals (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 26.6% (male 351,057/female 338,634)
15-64 years: 70.6% (male 1,172,460/female 659,927)
65 years and over: 2.9% (male 46,770/female 27,951) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 26.1 years
male: 28 years
female: 22.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 3.591%
note: this rate reflects a return to pre-Gulf crisis immigration of expatriates (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 21.9 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 2.37 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 16.39 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.78 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.67 male(s)/female
total population: 1.53 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 9.22 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.21 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.53 years
male: 76.38 years
female: 78.73 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.81 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.12% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Kuwaiti(s)
adjective: Kuwaiti
Ethnic groups: Kuwaiti 45%, other Arab 35%, South Asian 9%, Iranian 4%, other 7%
Religions: Muslim 85% (Sunni 70%, Shi’a 30%), other (includes Christian, Hindu, Parsi) 15%
Languages: Arabic (official), English widely spoken
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.3%
male: 94.4%
female: 91%

Kuwait, Philippines Move to Defuse Domestic Worker Row

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Kuwait, Philippines Move to Defuse Domestic Worker Row

Tuesday, 1 May, 2018 – 09:00
Overseas Filipino Workers from Kuwait gather upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay city, Metro Manila, Philippines in February. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Kuwait announced on Monday that it will set up a special commission to address the employment of housemaids in the Gulf state, in what was interpreted as an olive branch extended to the Philippines over the migrant labor row.

Manila announced on Monday that it was prepared to dispatch a delegation to Kuwait to contain the escalating dispute over domestic foreign workers in Kuwait.

The development stood in stark contrast to President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement over the weekend that Manila’s ban on sending domestic workers to Kuwait was permanent.

Duterte in February prohibited workers heading to Kuwait following the murder of a Filipina maid whose body was found stuffed in her employer’s freezer.

The resulting row deepened last week after Kuwaiti authorities ordered Manila’s envoy to leave the country over videos of Philippine embassy staff helping workers in Kuwait flee their employers.

During its weekly meeting, the Kuwaiti government on Monday said it was opposed to any move “aimed at undermining its sovereignty and its laws”, the official KUNA news agency reported.

The government added however that it will set up a special commission chaired by the minister of social affairs and labor to follow up “on cooperation with friendly states” on the employment of housemaids in Kuwait.

“This is largely a misunderstanding and exaggeration of some minor or one-off cases,” Deputy Foreign Minister Nasser al-Subaih told reporters in Kuwait City.

“We have taken a serious stance … but we do not believe in escalation and want to remain in direct communication to resolve the problem,” Subaih added.

Kuwait and the Philippines had been negotiating a labor deal that could have resulted in the lifting of the ban on Filipinos working in the Gulf state.

The Philippines on Tuesday welcomed Kuwait’s olive branch in the migrant labor row.

Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said: “This gesture on the part of Kuwait, a country with which we have a shared history and strong people-to-people ties, will allow us to move forward.”

“We affirm our friendship with the government of Kuwait and its people. The strength of that friendship will withstand this misunderstanding,” he added.

Around 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, nearly 60 percent of them domestic workers, according to the Philippines’ foreign ministry.

Duterte said workers returning from Kuwait could find employment as English teachers in China, citing improved ties with Beijing.

The Philippines has sent millions of its people to work abroad, seeking salaries they cannot get in their relatively impoverished nation.

The money they send back home accounts for about 10 percent of the Philippine economy.

Citing Quran, Kuwaiti Pundit Says Israel ‘A Legitimate State’ Not An Occupier

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

‘WHEN ISRAEL WAS ESTABLISHED THERE WAS NO PALESTINE’

Citing Quran, Kuwaiti pundit says Israel ‘a legitimate state,’ not an occupier

In Kuwaiti TV interview that prompts angry Arab response, Abdullah Al-Hadlaq praises Israeli culture and values, calls for alliance with Jewish state against common enemies

Kuwaiti writer Abdullah Al-Hadlaq on Alrai TV (YouTube screenshot)

Kuwaiti writer Abdullah Al-Hadlaq on Alrai TV (YouTube screenshot)

Al-Hadlaq cited Quranic verses as proof that “Israelites have the right to the Holy Land. Allah assigned that land to them, and they did not plunder it.

“The history of the Israelite’s is ancient, predating Islam. Therefore we Muslims must acknowledge that the Israelite’s have a right to that land, and that they have not plundered it,” he said.

Al-Hadlaq also spoke with glowing praise of Israel’s “scientific centers and universities, the likes of which even the oldest and most powerful Arab countries lack.”

And he celebrated Israel’s loyalty to its soldiers, speaking effusively of the lengthy public campaign to free soldier Gilad Shalit from Hamas captivity in 2011. He said he wished Arabs could be like the people of Israel “who rallied, down to the very last one, to defend a single Israeli soldier.

“By Allah, if he were a soldier in any Arab country, would his nation, country or head of state rally the same way Israel did? The Arab countries have had thousands of casualties, and nobody cares about them.”

Finally, Al-Hadlaq called for cooperation with Israel against common enemies such as Iran and its allies. “Why shouldn’t we live in peaceful coexistence with Israel and cooperate with it?” he asked.

He suggested a three-way alliance between Israel, the US and Gulf states to “annihilate Hezbollah beyond resurrection.”

It was not the first time Al-Hadlaq has made his pro-Israeli opinions known. He has in the past written columns in which he has defended Israel’s right to defend itself in the face of Hamas attacks, and lauded Israel’s democracy in a region of oppressive regimes.

He has been heavily criticized in Arab circles for these views.

READ MORE:

Germany: Kuwait Airlines Discrimination Against Israeli’s Won’t Be Tollerated

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘JEWISH NEWS’)

 

Kuwait Airways is under intense legal and political pressure in Germany for discriminating against Israelis.

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The gulf kingdom airline, already the subject of legal proceedings in the Frankfurt District Court after it banned an Israeli passenger from boarding a flight to Thailand last summer, now faces pressure from German Federal Minister of Transport, Alexander Dobrindt. He has ordered a state investigation into whether the airline’s policy of refusing service to Israeli nationals violates air traffic laws.

Volker Beck, a former Bundestag member from the Green Party, made clear what he sees as the choice facing Kuwait Airways. He demanded: “Stop the discrimination or stop doing business in Germany.”

Pressure is mounting on the gulf state’s national airline to stop targeting would-be passengers purely on the basis of Israeli nationality. Cases have already been brought against Kuwait Airways in the United States and Switzerland, leading to the cancellation of the airline’s JFK-London Heathrow flight path.

In October, Israeli-Arab social media star Nas Daily, produced a facebook video after he was banned from boarding a Kuwait Airways flight from New York to India because of his Israeli passport. The video has received over 700,000 views.

Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare Project, which is assisting the Israelis banned from travelling with their legal case said, “We commend the German Federal Ministry of Transport for launching an investigation into Kuwait Airway’s discriminatory practices. Our team will continue to pursue legal action until the German Government makes clear that Kuwait Airways must either comply with the law or cease doing business in their country.”

Nathan Gelbart, the Lawfare Project’s German Counsel said, “This case makes clear that there should be no room for discrimination in Germany. Our country’s laws and common values should call German policymakers to act immediately in ending Kuwait Airways systematic violations of civil rights in our country.”

 

Saudi Arabia Starts Repairing Crossing with Iraq

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Arabia Starts Repairing Crossing with Iraq

Saudi Arabia Starts Repairing Crossing with Iraq

Riyadh- For the first time since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the Saudi authorities are preparing the international road leading from the Kingdom to Iraq through the border port of Jumaima near Rafha province, said Iraqi sources Monday.

Iraqi Transport Minister Kathem al Hammami told Asharq Al-Awsat that his ministry along with all concerned Iraqi parties have completed all the preparations to reopen Jadidat Arar border, noting that the first flight might take place early September.

Hammami pointed out that there is a tendency to re-operate the railway line between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, which boosts the economic movement between the two countries and is capable of completing the Arab railway link.

The Iraqi Minister of Transport said that work is underway to reopen the other land ports, which are seven. He said that reopening the ports is important and allows the flow of goods between the two countries, pointing out that Iraq is in dire need of many goods and foodstuffs in Saudi Arabia.

Reopening the land port will facilitate the movement of travelers between the two countries, especially Iraqis who wish to visit the holy sites for the performance of Umrah and pilgrimage rituals, Hammami explained.

Asharq Al-Awsat received information from Iraqi sources Monday saying that Hazza’a Mohammed al-Mutairi will be appointed as the director of Jadidat Arar and that the official opening between Saudi Arabia and Iraq will be held after Eid al-Adha, on September 10.

However, Spokesman for Saudi Customs Issa Al-Issa refused to disclose or confirm any information, but Hammami and Iraqi ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dr.Rushdi al-Ani confirmed the news.

Exclusive: The secret documents that help explain the Qatar crisis

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Exclusive: The secret documents that help explain the Qatar crisis

Story highlights

  • The Gulf countries have accused Qatar of not complying with the two agreements
  • A Qatari spokesman said in a statement that it was Saudi Arabia and the UAE who “have broken the spirit of the agreement”

(CNN) Qatar made a series of secret agreements with its Gulf neighbors in 2013 and 2014 barring support for opposition and hostile groups in those nations, as well as in Egypt and Yemen.

The existence of the agreements has been known, but both the content and the documents themselves were kept secret due to the sensitivity of the issues involved and the fact that they were agreed in private by heads of state. The agreements were exclusively obtained by CNN from a source from the region with access to the documents.
The Gulf countries have accused Qatar of not complying with the two agreements, which helps explain what sparked the worst diplomatic crisis in the Middle East in decades.
Abiding by the agreements was among six principles the Gulf nations set as requirements to mend relations with Qatar in a statement released last week.
In a statement to CNN, Qatar accused Saudi Arabia and UAE of breaking the spirit of the agreement and indulging in an “unprovoked attack on Qatar’s sovereignty.”
The first agreement — handwritten and dated November 23, 2013 — is signed by the King of Saudi Arabia, the Emir of Qatar and the Emir of Kuwait. It lays out commitments to avoid any interference in the internal affairs of other Gulf nations, including barring financial or political support to “deviant” groups, which is used to describe anti-government activist groups.
The agreement, referred to as the Riyadh agreement, specifically mentions not supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Gulf allies have repeatedly alleged Qatar supports, as well as not backing opposition groups in Yemen that could threaten neighboring countries.
In justifying their boycott launched last month, Qatar’s Gulf counterparts accuse Doha of financially supporting Hezbollah and other terror groups, in addition to backing the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
In the first agreement, the countries also vowed not to support “antagonistic media,” an apparent reference to Al Jazeera — the satellite news station based in Qatar and funded by its government — which other Gulf states accuse of trumpeting opposition groups in the region including Egypt and Bahrain.
A second agreement headlined “top secret” and dated November 16, 2014, adds the King of Bahrain, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Prime Minister of the UAE. It specifically mentions the signatories’ commitment to support Egypt’s stability, including preventing Al Jazeera from being used as a platform for groups or figures challenging the Egyptian government.
The second agreement specifically mentions Al Jazeera, and not other media outlets like the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya. After the agreement was signed, Al Jazeera had shut down a channel dedicated to Egypt coverage: Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr.
A supplemental document to the 2013 agreement signed by the countries’ foreign ministers discusses implementation of the agreement.
It includes provisions barring support of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as outside groups in Yemen and Saudi Arabia that pose a threat to security and stability of Gulf Cooperation Council countries, a six-nation group that includes Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar.
The agreements do not single out Qatar, as the provisions included apply to all countries who signed it.
In response to CNN questions, a Qatari spokesman said in a statement that it was Saudi Arabia and the UAE who “have broken the spirit of the agreement.”
“A full reading of that text will show that the intent of the 2013/14 agreements was to ensure that sovereign GCC nations be able cooperate within a clear framework,” said Sheikh Saif Bin Ahmed Al-Thani, director of Qatar’s government communication office.
“Their demands — that Qatar close down Al Jazeera, force the breakup of families, and pay ‘compensation’ — are demands that bear no relation to the Riyadh agreements,” he added. “Further, at no point did Saudi Arabia or the UAE use the mechanisms in the Riyadh agreement to communicate their concerns to Qatar.”
Al Thani said that the current list of demands put to Qatar “represent an unwarranted and unprecedented attack on Qatar’s sovereignty, and it is for that reason that they have been rejected by Qatar and condemned by the international community.”
“This crisis was triggered by a hacking, fabricated statements, and a coordinated media campaign against Qatar,” he said. “From the beginning, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have attempted to conceal facts from the general public, including their own citizens, going so far as to block Al Jazeera and other media outlets within their borders.”
The documents hint at longstanding tensions between the countries in the GCC.
In March 2014, for instance, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar because they alleged Qatar was not implementing the first agreement’s pledge not to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.
But the agreements also appear to be an attempt to improve relations. Citing “extensive deliberations in which they conducted a full revision of what taints the relations between the [Gulf Cooperation] Council states,” the first agreement states that the parties agreed to “abolish whatever muddies the relations.”
But the agreements also provide new insight to help explain why nine Middle Eastern countries, led by Saudi Arabia, cut ties with Qatar in June over its alleged support of terrorism.
Qatar has called the allegations leveled last month “unjustified” and “baseless.”
Four of the Arab States that boycotted Qatar submitted a list of 13 demands to end the diplomatic crisis, including shuttering Al Jazeera.
The list also included demands to cut ties to extremist organizations, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and ISIS, to halt the development of a Turkish military base in the country and to stop the practice of giving Qatari nationality to their citizens.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said last week that Qatar’s had responded negatively to the demands, saying Qatar’s response was “overall negative and lacked any substance.”
Qatari’s foreign minister argued some of the demands violated international law.
“If you are looking at the demands — there are accusations that Qatar is supporting terrorism — they are shutting free speech, shutting the media outlets, expelling people. … So there are a lot of demands which are against the international law,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last week.
Trump administration officials are hoping they can help broker a resolution to the diplomatic crisis. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is making stops in Qatar and then Saudi Arabia this week as part of his trip through the region, where he was already meeting Monday with officials in Turkey — allied with Qatar in the dispute — and Kuwait, which is playing a mediator role.
R.C. Hammond, a State Department spokesman, said the purpose of Tillerson’s trip was “to explore the art of the possible of where a resolution can be found,” and the US was “looking for areas of common ground where a resolution can stand.”
“We’ve had one round of exchanges and dialogue and didn’t advance the ball,” Hammond told reporters. “We will work with Kuwait and see if we can hash out a different strategy. … This is a two-way street. There are no clean hands.”
President Donald Trump also spoke last week to the leaders of Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
When the Gulf countries first cut ties with Qatar, however, Trump appeared to support the Gulf countries cutting ties with Qatar, saying that Doha had to stop funding terrorism. Trump’s comments came following his visit to Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip as president, and contradicted his secretary of state.
UPDATE: This story has been edited for clarity and to add the text of the supplemental agreement signed by countries’ foreign ministers.

Iranian city soars to record 129 degrees: Near hottest on Earth in modern measurements

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Iranian city soars to record 129 degrees: Near hottest on Earth in modern measurements

 June 29 at 3:07 PM

A city in southwest Iran posted the country’s hottest temperature ever recorded Thursday afternoon, and may have tied the world record for the most extreme high temperature.

Etienne Kapikian, a forecaster at French meteorological agency MeteoFrance, posted to Twitter that the city of Ahvaz soared to “53.7°C” (128.7 degrees Fahrenheit). Kapikian said the temperature is a “new absolute national record of reliable Iranian heat” and that it was the hottest temperature ever recorded in June over mainland Asia. Iran’s previous hottest temperature was 127.4.

Weather Underground’s website indicates the temperature in Ahvaz climbed even higher, hitting 129.2 degrees at both 4:51 and 5 p.m. local time.

If that 129.2 degrees reading is accurate, it would arguably tie the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth in modern times.

Christopher Burt, a weather historian for Weather Underground, has exhaustively analyzed world temperature extremes and determined the 129.2 degree readings posted in Mitribah, Kuwait on July 21, 2016, and Death Valley, Calif., on June 30, 2013, are the hottest credible temperature measurements that exist in modern records.

Officially, Death Valley set the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth on July 10, 1913, soaring to 134 degrees (57 Celsius). But Burt posted a devastating critique of that measurement in October 2016, concluding it was “essentially not possible from a meteorological perspective,” and that the weather observer committed errors.

For the 129.2 degree-reading Ahvaz posted on Weather Underground to stand and match the highest modern global temperature, it will require review by the World Meteorological Organization.

The scorching temperature reading was brought about by a dome of heat centered over the Middle East.

The excessively hot air over Ahvaz, a city of 1.1 million people, felt even more stifling due to high humidity. As the temperature climbed into the high 120s, the dew point, a measure of humidity, peaked in the low 70s; a high level for the desert location (due to air flow from the Persian Gulf, to the south). The heat index — a measure of how hot it feels factoring in the humidity — exceeded 140 degrees. This combination of heat and humidity was so extreme that it was beyond levels the heat index was designed to compute.

In the Persian Gulf city of Jask, Iran, about 800 miles southeast of Ahvaz, the humidity was even more suffocating. The dew point on Wednesday morning hit 91.4 degrees. Dew points above 90 are quite rare. The highest dew point ever measured on Earth is 95 degrees (35 Celsius), set at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on July 8, 2003.

Thursday marked the second straight day of record heat in Ahvaz. On Wednesday, it hit 127.2 degrees (52.9 Celsius), breaking the record for Iran’s hottest June temperature, only to be exceeded the next day.

These Iranian temperature extremes come just a month after several locations in the Middle East recorded their hottest May temperatures during another exceptional heat wave.

On May 28, the western Pakistani town of Turbat hit 128.3 degrees (53.5 Celsius), tying the all-time highest temperature in that country and the world record temperature for May, according to Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters.

At the same time Masters reported that at the military base of Konarak in eastern Iran, the temperature reached 127 degrees, “destroying the record of the highest temperature ever recorded in May in Iran (50.5°C in Bostan in May 1999).”

All of these record-breaking temperatures in recent years, including Thursday’s reading in Ahvaz as well as those set in Kuwait and Death Valley in 2016 and 2013, represent temperature extremes consistent with what climate scientists expect to see in a warming world.

The National Academy of Sciences published a report in 2016 that said worsening heat waves are among the weather events that can be most easily connected to human-caused climate change.

study published in the journal Nature Climate Change in 2015 cautioned that by the end of the century, due to climate change, temperatures in the Middle East may become too hot for human survival.

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