Turkey and Israel: how the world sees them

The Middle East certainly dominates the news nowadays, so this article I read about Turkey and "fake news" and Israel and Palestine were intriguing to read, especially because I learned something. The first article appeared on the BBC and talks about how Turkey manipulates the news. Turkey is the world's largest jailer of journalists, ranking 157 o...
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Disappearance of Saudi journalist puts Erdogan in difficult situation

Keeping an eye on what is happening with “disappeared” journalist Khashoggi, it would appear that a full-blown diplomatic incident is looming. This is not surprising. Journalists often “disappear” in Saudi and in the United Arab Emirates. This is how Al Monitor reports the incident.

 

Disappearance of Saudi journalist puts Erdogan in difficult situation

Semih Idiz October 9, 2018

 Article Summary

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Where is the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi?

I apologise for not having been around recently. I’ve travelled from the United Kingdom to New Zealand, arriving back on Wednesday evening, and now I’m getting back into things.

One of the items which appears to be on top of the news agenda is the alleged murder of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, (whom I’ve met) at the Saudi embassy in Turkey. I’m told by a Saudi source that murder is not typically the Saudi way. That it’s more likely that the Saudis will abduct someone and blackmail the family. Let’s see.

This is what the BBC wrote about the case.

Jamal Khashoggi: Turkey says journalist was murdered in Saudi consulate

7 October 2018

Fears are growing over the missing Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, after Turkish officials said they believed he had been murdered.

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Qatar isn't paying World Cup stadium workers

One of the Qatari construction companies isn’t paying its workers. And workers just can’t up and leave, or move to another employers, according to the article below.

When I arrived in Dubai, in the UAE, the weekend was still only a day and a half (half of Friday and Saturday) although journalists seldom got Friday off (or I didn’t anyway). And if you wanted to leave an employer that was in Dubai proper- ie not in a free zone- you needed to ask the permission of your employer. Employers also retained employees’ passports.

This was the same in Qatar. A lot of people were not allowed to move to another employee.  And I’ve heard of other people and companies not being paid. Therefore, I was not surprised to read this article in The Daily Mail.

 

 Amnesty International says Qatar isn't paying World Cup stadium workers, with hundreds owed up to £4,000

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Filipina expat forced to work as prostitute in Arab country

There are many Filipinas/os in the Middle East, most of whom are looking for good employment opportunities so that they can send money back home- often to send their children to work. It’s a sad situation. Even more so, when we learn that the mother is forced into prostitution and documents taken away.

 I spotted this on the website of Khaleej Times, a national newspaper in the UAE.

 Filipina expat forced to work as prostitute in Arab country

Filed on September 19, 2018 | Last updated on September 19, 2018 at 05.58 pm

 

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Is Trump pushing Abbas to dismantle the Palestinian Authority?

I’m in the UK currently and the news is full of stories, especially about Jeremy Corbyn- the leader of the Labour Party and the opposition- and about how the media and politicians are antisemitic. Some of the concerns are true; some are not. No doubt, this comment will be deemed antisemitic.

On reading the article below (which appeared in Al Monitor) I recall a conversation I had in Bethlehem, Palestine, by someone who had negotiated with the Israelis. He said that for the Israelis the “status quo” would always be better than any future deal.

 Is Trump pushing Abbas to dismantle the Palestinian Authority?

Ben Caspit September 13, 2018

 Article Summary

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Bumpy road ahead for Egypt's first female Coptic governor

Bumpy road ahead for Egypt's first female Coptic governor

Menna A. Farouk September 4, 2018

Women's rights activists and Christian figures rejoiced as Egypt appointed its first Coptic Christian woman as governor of the Nile Delta city of Damietta.

The appointment of Manal Awad, the first Christian woman to hold the position of governor in Egypt, reflects an unprecedented state willingness to empower Christians and appoint them in leading government posts.

Former member of Egyptian parliament Gamal Assad said the Egyptian leadership’s attitude toward Christians has dramatically changed under the reign of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Assad added that there will have to be community support to any initiatives or decisions that are made in the interests of Christians in Egypt. “The new Christian governor in Damietta is going to be under threat because there are still followers of the Muslim Brotherhood group out there, and they are of course opposing the appointment of any Christian in a leading post,” he told Al-Monitor.

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Saudi Arabia hints at plan to turn Qatar into an island

pute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar has been going on for 14 months. Saudi Arabia has now decided to go one step further and cut off Qatar entirely from Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, and in so doing change the geography of the region. This is what Khaleej Times, a Dubai-based national newspaper says.

 

Saudi Arabia hints at plan to turn Qatar into an island

Filed on September 1, 2018

The plan is the latest stress point in a highly fractious 14-month long dispute between the two states.

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Will Hamas, Israel call Qatar-brokered truce?

 The role Qatar plays in Palestine, as well as with Israel, is an interesting one. There is more going on than often meets the eye. Here is an overview of what’s happening, from the Palestine Pulse, part of Al-Monitor. I was in Doha when Hamas had one of its first meetings there.

 Will Hamas, Israel call Qatar-brokered truce?

Adnan Abu Amer August 30, 2018

 

Article Summary

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Redefining Palestine

I’m posting this article from Al Monitor about President Trump redefining UNRWA- continuing last week’s theme. There is no doubt that UNRWA is an anomaly, given that there is already a commission for refugees- UNHCR.

 

Article Summary

Israeli diplomats claim that the UNRWA’s mandate must be revised so that the issue of Palestinian refugees will include only the generation that really lost its home.

In the words of President Donald Trump, the (symbolic) transfer of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem served to take the Jerusalem problem “off the table.” Trump put a checkmark next to the Jerusalem issue, a conundrum that has cast a shadow on anyone who tried to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians ever since the 1993 Oslo Accord. Now, it seems, Trump is also removing the Palestinian refugee problem from the agenda. This is an issue that the Palestinian narrative views as central and imperative, even more than Jerusalem.

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Saudi halts Aramco IPO

The Saudi Aramco IPO was going to be the largest ever and it has now been halted. Here’s a report from CNBC this morning.

Saudi Arabia reportedly calls off Aramco IPO and disbands advisers

Saudi Arabia cancels plans to list shares of its state-owned oil giant Aramco, Reuters reports.The initial public offering was expected to be the largest ever and underpinned an ambitious plan to overhaul the Saudi economy.

Tom DiChristopher | @tdichristopher

Published 17 Hours Ago Updated 14 Hours Ago CNBC.com

Saudi Arabia calls off Aramco IPO: Report   16 Hours Ago | 02:06

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US outsources Syria aid to Gulf

It’s hard to believe that Donald Trump really has won against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. These countries have reportedly pledged USD 250 million towards stabilising Syria, taking the place of America. Is there real money yet or have they made pledges only? Will they have control over the projects or the USA?

 I can tell you that having lived in Dubai, and covering some of these topics as a journalist, the UAE (namely Abu Dhabi) will take control of the projects, if it’s putting up the money. The region wants influence and through aid it’ll get it.

 America will probably regret not financing aid in the region. Its influence will diminish but that of Saudi Arabia and the UAE will increase. Both countries sing from the same song sheet.

 Bryant Harris August 17, 2018

 

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Turkey wants its share of Syria's reconstruction

Back at the end of 2013, when the war in Syria was in full swing, there was the belief among many Western and GCC politicians, construction companies and private equity firms that the war in Syria would be at an end in the following few weeks. And Bashir Assad would step down as President. How wrong they were.

This conference, held at the Madinat Dubai, was not well publicised. Back then, the war in Syria didn’t make the headlines, as it does now.

These people were talking about the reconstruction efforts, and what countries and companies, would get to do what- from water purification to airport reconstruction. There was no talk of Turkey.

With this in mind, I was interested to read the article below from Al Monitor talking about Turkey’s role in the reconstruction effort. How times have changed.

By Fehim Tastekin August 15, 2018

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Taking Tesla private: is it a pipe dream?

Saudi sovereign wealth fund money, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), is reportedly offering Elon Musk the money for Tesla to go private, to the sum of about USD $ 72 million. It supposedly has about USD $250 million in cash.? It is unlikely to be that easy. Nothing in Saudi Arabia, or the Middle East more widely, is as it seems. If a deal is secured could it be subject to a security review in the US?

This is what the Reuters correspondent in Riyadh, Andrew Torchia, wrote a few hours ago.

Saudi Fund may only play minor part in Musk's USD $72 billion Tesla plan- bankers

The fund is estimated to have over USD $250 billion in assets. But it is not that simple.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) has many claims on its resources, both financial and political.

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UNRWA's work in Palestine

 President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is reportedly pushing to annul the refugee status of millions of Palestinans and shutter the UN agency tasked with their welfare.

Reading the article, which I have posted below, I was reminded of a case study I wrote for a book on refugees- just being published. It is entitled: "Refugee reflections: a study of employment and health in New Zealand".

Here is what I wrote.

UNRWA’s work in Palestine has some lessons for New Zealand.

 The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) working with Palestine refugees has introduced a “family-medicine” approach in its treatment of Palestine refugees. This is because of the high incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) - which includes diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and smoke-related chronic lung diseases. Director of UNRWA’s health programme for Palestine refugees, Akihiro Seita says the new programme was introduced four years ago and is working well. NCDs account for 70 per cent to 80 per cent of deaths of Palestinian refugees, he notes.

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Saudi Arabia- how much has changed?

Women in Saudi Arabia don’t get it easy. A great deal is made of the fact that they can now drive but how much has really changed?

My short trips to Riyadh haven’t been easy. Strange men knocking at the hotel room door at 10pm; trying to get food at a hotel and walking down the street to buy a kebab with rows of men staring at me.

So how have things changed? Can they change that quickly?

This feature article by Louise Callaghan, Middle East correspondent at The Times, sets about answering this question.

Go to: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/women-in-saudi-arabia-can-work-party-and-now-drive-but-is-their-newfound-freedom-all-it-seems-p97qt7xvp

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What does an empowered Saudi woman look like?

 

 

 Being a woman in the Middle East is not easy, a single woman in Saudi Arabia in particular. I am an expert on that. But things are slowing changes so that woman from the West are yearning to go there. This article from the Brookings Institute explains how Saudi Arabia is changing.

 

What does an empowered Saudi woman look like?

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The summer of Israel

I haven't written a blog for about a week because my Apple Mac Pro went kaput and I've been arguing with Currys PC World (in the UK) ever since. For the meantime, I've now got a PC but I miss my Mac. It was going to cost me £800 to have a new screen fitted- on a computer which needs replaced anyway because the memory was overloaded. I was first told by Currys that I could get the screen repaired for £60 plus the cost of the repair- which I was told would be about £60, a big difference from £800, which all the Mac shops also told me. Why the difference? Currys PC World  buys at trade so it's therefore cheaper. Turns out it isn't. To cut a long story short I am going to get my retrieved data tomorrow, for the fifth time.

Maybe this is just a deviation from the day-to-day writing I must do. But I'm not the only one who's deviating it seems- Israel is too. This article, from Brooking s Brief, (which first appeared in Foreign Policy) below explains why this is the case, and why "friends" might be fleeting.

Blind Spot

By Khaled Elgindy

U.S. President Donald Trump took a bipartisan hit after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki earlier this month, with Republicans and Democrats alike assailing what’s being peddled as his full capitulation to Putin. Undercutting the U.S. intelligence community to endorse Putin’s denial of Russian tampering with the 2016 election, Trump won wall-to-wall scorn for his performance. Meanwhile, in Israel, the summit was understandable cause for celebration.

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Abraaj: what went wrong?

The story of Abraaj, the largest private equity house in the Middle East, is perhaps the story of Dubai. How, after excessive hubris, the private equity firm was brought down to size. This seems to be happening to Dubai itself. Just read the article: "Dubai is melting like a glacier in the desert". https://www.luciadore.com/blog/dubai-is-melting-like-a-glacier-in-the-desert

This article in Bloomberg's Business Week explains what happened. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-06

The Downfall of Dubai’s Star Investor

With the potential collapse of Arif Naqvi’s Abraaj Group comes trouble for the United Arab Emirates’ nascent financial industry. ByTracy Alloway, Dinesh Nair, and Matthew MartinJune 14, 2018Pakistani financier Arif Naqvi shared a stage with Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January for a panel on global health. Even alongside the billionaire philanthropist and two medical professionals, Naqvi stood out for his enthusiasm: “Like Bill, I’m an optimist,” he said. “So I believe the glass is half full, very firmly. I don’t believe it’s half empty.”Unbeknownst to the audience, four investors in Naqvi’s Dubai-based $1 billion health-care fund, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, had recruited forensic accountants to investigate where their money had gone. The existence of the inquiry was first reported less than a week later by the Wall Street Journal. A subsequent review by Deloitte LLP, made at the request of Abraaj Group, Naqvi’s holding company, found it had dipped into money reserved for the health-care fund as well as a private equity fund, according to a draft summary sent to creditors and seen by Bloomberg News. Abraaj’s senior managers shared “collective responsibility” for “lapses in governance and control,” Deloitte said.In March, Naqvi halted fresh investments and released investors from commitments to a new fund, what would have been Abraaj’s largest to date. Later that month, the company began slashing jobs and downsizing its business to better prepare it for “sustainable growth,” according to a statement.

Abraaj was still pushing creditors to agree to a standstill on debt payments as of mid-June. Now it’s considering filing for provisional liquidation ahead of a June 29 court hearing on a petition from Kuwait’s Public Institution for Social Security seeking to dissolve its holdings, according to people with knowledge of goings-on inside the company.

“We should have reacted to the kind of questions that investors were asking, arguably, in a different way,” Naqvi says. “The fact that we didn’t, the fact that we took a particular perspective and stuck to that is in hindsight not the smartest thing we could have done.”

“Private equity is still a nascent industry in the region, so it’s a shame to see the biggest name falling apart”

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Does Israel need to be in a state of emergency?

Israel is in a state of emergency, and has been since 1948. How can this be allowed and what does it mean for the population? Reading this article in Al Monitor by a former justice and religious affairs minister, Yossi Bellin, t shows there is a whole list of ramifications.

Does Israel need to be in a state of emergency?

A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was announced the night of July 14, following large exchanges of fire between the Islamist movement and the Israel Defense Forces. That there is an undeclared cease-fire — one not officially authorized by the Israeli government — does not, however, end Israel’s state of emergency. Actually, the state of emergency is always in effect, making it unnecessary to declare it every time there is an escalation of violence. There is no need to declare a state of emergency for an urgent call-up of the reserves, because such a call-up, under Order 8, does not depend on that. Whether dealing with people from Gaza setting nearby fields on fire or with using heavier weapons systems, there is no need for a formal decision on a new security status. The state of emergency is always present in Israel, because the tail wags the dog.

On July 12, Haaretz announced that a joint committee of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee had decided to respond positively to a government request and recommend to the Knesset that it extend the current state of emergency by another year. No one was upset about it. How can anyone get excited over a situation that has existed since May 19, 1948?

It began at the height of the 1948 War of Independence. Israel needed to ensure that the public received goods and services, and there was nothing more natural for the interim government than deciding that a country that was just 5 days old, and already in a state of war, to declare a state of emergency. This way, it could procure existing resources from the public on behalf of the security effort. The war ended less than a year later, but the state of emergency remained in effect. Someone forgot to revoke it, or perhaps it was just all too convenient to give it up so easily.

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