Tzar Ivan the Terrible was a cruel tyrant. Everybody knows that. And just like many things that “everybody knows” and thus nobody questions, the sobriquet “Terrible” should be taken with a grain of salt. Since we are in the middle of Pesach (Passover), I recommend Kosher for Passover Red Sea Salt. True, he did accidentally kill his son […]
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)
Yemen Urges Int’l Pressure to Curb Potential Oil Spill in Red Sea
In an address to the UN Secretary General, Yemeni Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Hadrami stressed the need to get Houthis to grant the international body’s probing technicians access to Safir.
The facility contains more than one million barrels of crude oil pumped before Houthis staged a nationwide coup four years ago. The Iran-backed insurgents refuse allowing the internationally-recognized government from exporting that oil, and threaten blowing up the naval facility if they are not allowed to sell the oil reserves themselves.
Any explosion at Safir will cause a catastrophic oil spill with irreversible environmental damage.
Apart from Houthi threats of attack, Hadrami warned against the Houthis’ continued blocking of assessment teams from examining the reservoir, which he said was in a corrosive condition that could lead up to a shocking environmental disaster that would contaminate Red Sea and regional waters.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, President of the Revolutionary Council, a body formed by the militants, had tabled an offer previously to sell the oil reserves stored in Safir and have the freely-elected government and insurgents split revenues.
Hadrami, for his part, stressed the government’s keenness to its long-standing demand for solutions on this particular issue. He underscored that the government has cooperated fully with the UN in this regard and is waiting for experts to evaluate the development of an effective strategy.
The Yemeni deputy foreign minister also placed blame on the militias for causing an environmental disaster in the Red Sea.
According to official sources, Hadrami stressed during a high-level meeting that the Yemeni government was – and still is – very keen on peace, and the full implementation of the UN-brokered peace agreement inked in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, last December.
“The government has made a lot of concessions to this end, despite the continued intransigence of the Houthi militias, their maneuvering to buy time at the expense of suffering Yemenis and the failure of the Swedish agreement,” he said.
Hadrami renewed the government’s condemnation of Houthis’ continued blackmailing of international organizations operating in Yemen and their militias looting of food aid and humanitarian relief.
He also appreciated the efforts and positions undertaken by the World Food Program (WFP) to put an end to such violations.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)
Egypt Takes New Step to Become a Regional Energy Hub
In the coming days Egypt will inaugurate a new wharf for natural gas and petroleum product tankers on the Gulf of Suez.
SUMED, which has operated two pipelines from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, will build the new wharf.
The 2.5 km wharf will have three berths to receive natural gas and petroleum products carriers.
“The country has been building fuelling depots for ships along the Suez Canal and expanding its refining capacity, and has an extensive pipeline network and two idle gas liquefaction plants ready to export new gas as it arrives,” Reuters stated.
SUMED is owned %50 by the Egyptian government, while the rest by Arab oil exporters in the Gulf.
The pipeline is spending $415 million to develop its facilities, including building nine 300,000 cubic meter petroleum storage tanks and loading and offloading facilities.
The tanks are due to be completed by the end of 2018, said SUMED chairman Mohamed Abdel-Hafez.
NBK-Egypt provided $300 million in financing for the project, according to a statement by the bank in May.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ASHARQ AL-AWSAT DAILY NEWS PAPER OF SAUDI ARABIA)
Aden – Houthi rebels in Yemen detained six Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) national staff and a contracted driver in the Red Sea district of Hodeidah, according to a statement issued by the Council on Monday.
The detention seemed to be based on the fact that when the NRC staff opened the hygiene kit boxes at the distribution, they came to learn that the boxes, which had no markings on the outside, had a text written on the inside of the boxes that said: “The campaign of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for emergency response.”
The boxes were dated January 2015, before the conflict escalated in March 2015 and were originally used for food.
They had been reused by the contracted vender as hygiene kits packaging. Recycling like this is common in the country.
The Oslo-based non-governmental organization confirmed that it is impartial and does not take sides, stressing that it takes this issue extremely seriously and is currently investigating the matter.
“Our highest priorities now are to safeguard the safety and security of our staff, and investigate this matter fully. We are in contact with the local authorities, and we request that the authorities guarantee the safety, security and well-being of our staff in al-Hudaydah, which has been assured.”
In a statement carried by Yemen’s pro-government Sabanew.net news website, Local Affairs Minister Abdul Raqib Fattah said that the staff had been “abducted” by Houthi rebels from the aid group’s offices in the Hali district of Hodeida.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE EGYPT INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER OF CAIRO)
Egypt has topped a list of Middle East (ME) countries that are safe for tourism and vacations, according to the US government. Other ME countries deemed safe include Jordan, Oman, UAE and Qatar.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)
Chinese expertise ends Africa logjam
WITH Chinese conductors at the helm, a fleet of shiny new trains yesterday began plying a new route from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to the Red Sea port city of Djibouti, in a major boost to both economies.
The 752.7-kilometer railway, built by two Chinese companies, will link the two African cities in about 10 hours, a far cry from the current excruciating multi-day trip along a congested, pot-holed road.
“We’re so excited. It takes two or three days for a truck to come from Djibouti. The driver doesn’t answer his phone. We don’t know where he is and that can be a bit of a nightmare,” said Ethiopian importer Tingrit Worku. “The train could make a huge difference.”
Some 1,500 trucks a day currently lumber along the road which carries 90 percent of imports and exports from landlocked Ethiopia to the port — a key trade hub to Asia, Europe and the rest of Africa.
“This train is a game changer. Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa. The connection to the ports (of Djibouti) will give a bounce and our economy will grow faster,” said Mekonnen Getachew, project manager of the Ethiopian Railways Corporation.
Ethiopia was the world’s fastest growing economy last year at 10.2 percent, however the International Monetary Fund estimates that the worst drought in 30 years is likely to see this plummet to 4.5 percent in 2016.
Both countries benefit from economic integration, with Ethiopia gaining access to the sea and Djibouti — the smallest state in the Horn of Africa — gaining access to Ethiopia’s emerging market of 95 million people.
“It is the first standard gauge electrified railroad on the continent built with Chinese standard and technology, and certainly it will not be the last. Many stand to benefit from it,” said Chinese ambassador to Ethiopia La Yifan.
The new railway means the end of the historic French-built diesel line built-in 1917, which fell into abandon in later decades, with frequent derailment.
Yesterday’s inauguration will be followed by a three-month test period, with no paying passengers and carrying only cargo.
However, when the line is fully functional, uniformed Chinese controllers will welcome passengers to spotless platforms of newly built stations all along the route, while Chinese technicians and stationmaster will keep things running in the background.
“We don’t yet have the management experience yet. We have a management contract with Chinese staff for five years, with an Ethiopian counterpart in training,” said Getachew.
China has invested heavily in infrastructure in Ethiopia, funding sub-Saharan Africa’s first modern tramway, which opened last year, as well as motorways and dams.
The new US$4 billion railway, with its red, yellow and green trains evoking the Ethiopian flag, was 70 percent financed by China’s Exim Bank and built by China Railway Group and China Civil Engineering Construction.
A high-level Chinese delegation, in Addis Ababa for the inauguration of the railway, signed further agreements on Tuesday valued at US$100 million for the construction of roads, the state-controlled Fana Broadcasting Corporation reported.
China became Africa’s largest trade partner in 2009.
China built the US$200million African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa in 2012 as a gift expressing “friendship to the African people.”
However direct investment in Africa slumped “more than 40 percent” last year, as growth slowed in China.
The railway is the first step in a vast network of 5,000 kilometers of rail which Ethiopia hopes to build by 2020.