Archive for July, 2013
GENEVA – A United Nations body that handles war reparations for Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait said Thursday it had handed over a further $1.07 billion (810 million euros) to the emirate.
The payment, related to damage to oil facilities and resulting financial losses, brings to $42.3 billion the total sum handed out by the United Nations Compensation Commission (UNCC).
Some $10.1 billion awarded by the UNCC to a string of claimants still remains to be paid out.
In addition to Kuwait, more than 100 governments and international organizations have been allocated funds by the UNCC for distribution to 1.5 million successful claimants.
The UNCC was set up by the UN Security Council in 1991, the year that a US-led coalition drove then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait.
Its funds are drawn from a UN-mandated levy of five percent on Iraqi oil exports, whose continued existence has come in for criticism given that Saddam was ousted in 2003 in the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Source: Middle East Online.
Majority of political groups are boycotting election for Kuwait’s 50-seat parliament, while few are participating in it.
KUWAIT CITY – Ranging from advocates of Islamic law to Western-style liberals, a majority of political groups are boycotting Saturday’s election for Kuwait’s 50-seat parliament, while a few are participating in it.
Political parties remain banned in the oil-rich Gulf emirate, although these groups act as de facto parties.
Those boycotting are doing it for the second time in a row in protest at the government’s amendment of the electoral law, although the change was confirmed by the constitutional court in June.
These opposition groups along with independent opposition members held no seats in the predominantly pro-government parliament elected in December, but had as many as 36 seats in parliament after February 2012 polls. Both houses were nullified by Kuwait’s top court on procedural flaws.
Kuwait’s parliamentary system is unique as candidates contest polls individually, and the government is normally formed from outside parliament and its unelected ministers automatically become MPs and can vote like elected members.
Among the main political groups boycotting the polls is The Islamic Constitutional Movement, political arm of Kuwait’s Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. The ICM has called for political and economic reforms despite advocating a stricter social order. It has not fielded any candidate and is urging voters to shun the ballot.
The Islamic Salafi Alliance (ISA), a purist Sunni religious group with hardline views on morality, is divided on the issue of taking part in polls as one section is participating and the other is boycotting.
The Islamic Ommah Party is the only party in Kuwait but it is not recognized by the state. With its radical and progressive views on reforms, including an elected government and a full parliamentary system, the party has stayed away from the polls.
The Popular Action Movement is also boycotting. It brings together former legislators headed by veteran former speaker Ahmad al-Saadun. The group focuses on populist issues such as housing and salary increases, besides calling for radical democratic reforms.
Another political group boycotting the polls is The Democratic Forum. It is a liberal group and strong advocate of political and economic reforms with a priority on development. A few of its members defected and are running.
Among the groups that are taking part is The National Democratic Alliance, an umbrella of a number of moderate liberal groups and individuals close to the merchants. It had boycotted December polls but this time has decided to take part after the court’s ruling. Some of its members are still staying away.
The National Action Bloc, a liberal grouping which is not a part of the main opposition, has decided to participate after boycotting last polls.
The National Islamic Alliance, a Shiite group, has publicly supported the election and is fielding five candidates, one in each electoral constituency.
The Justice and Peace Alliance, also a Shiite group, is taking part.
Almost all Bedouin tribes, which boycotted December polls, have decided to take part. Analysts, however, are not expecting a high turnout from tribes.
Source: Middle East Online.
MADINAH: YUSUF MUHAMMAD
Thursday 25 July 2013
Of the many historical and archaeological sites in Madinah, visitors are most likely to visit a group of small mosques, commonly known as “The Seven Mosques.”
People visit six small mosques in the region, but add a seventh one, known as the “Mosque of the Two Qiblas” which is about a kilometer away from the others.
The largest of the seven mosques is Al-Fath on a hilltop near the western side of Sal’ mountain. It was built when Umar ibn Abd Al-Aziz was governor of Madinah in the years 87 to 93 after Hijrah (705 CE to 711 CE). It was rebuilt in 575 H (1179 CE). It was then rebuilt again during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Abd Al-Majid I in 1851.
The Salman Al-Farisi Mosque is located south of Al-Fath Mosque, 20 meters from the base of Sal’ mountain. It is named after Salman, the companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who recommended digging a trench to fortify the city from an invasion. It has one hall at 7 meters long and 2 meters wide. It was also built while Umar ibn Abd Al-Aziz was governor of Madinah. In 575 H (1179 CE) it was rebuilt on the orders of minister Said Al-Deen Abu Al-Haija. It was rebuilt again during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Abd Al-Majid I.
The Abu Bakr Al-Siddeeq Mosque is 15 meters to the southwest of Salman Al-Farisi Mosque. It was reported that Abu Bakr, when he was caliph, prayed Eid prayer there. This is why it was named after him. It was also reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) prayed the Eid prayer there.
The Umar ibn Al-Khattab Mosque is 10 meters to the south of Abu Bakr Mosque, opposite Al-Ghamamah mosque and close to the Prophet’s Mosque. There is not much historical detail about the mosque, but there is speculation that it could be the ancient mosque at Al-Durrah place where Umar may have prayed during his reign as caliph. This would explain why it was named after him. It has an open yard and is eight steps above the ground. Its structure is similar to Al-Fath Mosque, which indicates that the two structures may have been built and renovated together.
The Ali ibn Abi Talib Mosque is east of Fatimah Mosque on a high rectangular hilltop. It is 8.5 meters long and 6.5 meters wide. It has one small step. It is likely to have been built and renovated with Al-Fath Mosque.
The Fatimah Al-Zahra Mosque is known as Mus’ad ibn Mo’az Mosque. It is the smallest of the group and measures 4 meters by 3 meters. It has one small step. It has a similar structure to other mosques in the area and may have been built during the Ottoman era, most likely during the reign of Sultan Abd Al-Majid I in 1851.
Source: Arab News.
July 23, 2013
MUSCAT: Oman’s ruler pardoned Tuesday 14 protesters jailed for Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations in 2011 calling for more job opportunities and a greater public voice in the tightly run country.
The protests touched off a series of confrontations with authorities, including labor strikes and sit-ins.
The official Omani News Agency said Sultan Qaboos bin Said ordered the pardons to take effect Tuesday for the prisoners. Their sentences ranged from 30 months to five years.
Oman responded to the protests with some reforms such as elections for local councils that have no direct powers but will serve in an advisory role.
Strategic Oman shares control of the Strait of Hormuz with Iran. The narrow waterway at the mouth of the Persian Gulf is the route for one-fifth of the world’s crude oil.
Source: The Daily Star.
July 23, 2013
BAGHDAD (AP) — Al-Qaida’s arm in Iraq has claimed responsibility for deadly raids on prisons on the outskirts of Baghdad this week that set free hundreds of prisoners, including some of its followers.
The statement issued in the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was posted on an online jihadist forum Tuesday. The group dubbed the prison assault operation that began late Sunday “Conquering the Tyrants,” and says it involved 12 car bombs and help from prisoners who had managed to obtain weapons on the inside.
It claims to have freed hundreds of prisoners, including more than 500 mujahideen, or holy fighters. Iraqi officials have said the raids killed dozens and set free more than 500 inmates.
By Kareem Raheem and Ziad al-Sinjary
Mon Jul 22, 2013
(Reuters) – Hundreds of convicts, including senior members of al Qaeda, broke out of Iraq’s Abu Ghraib jail as comrades launched a military-style assault to free them, authorities said on Monday.
The deadly raid on the high-security jail happened as Sunni Muslim militants are re-gaining momentum in their insurgency against the Shi’ite-led government that came to power after the U.S. invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.
Suicide bombers drove cars packed with explosives to the gates of the prison on the outskirts of Baghdad on Sunday night and blasted their way into the compound, while gunmen attacked guards with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
Other militants took up positions near the main road, fighting off security reinforcements sent from Baghdad as several militants wearing suicide vests entered the prison on foot to help free the inmates.
Ten policemen and four militants were killed in the ensuing clashes, which continued until Monday morning, when military helicopters arrived, helping to regain control.
By that time, hundreds of inmates had succeeded in fleeing Abu Ghraib, the prison made notorious a decade ago by photographs showing abuse of prisoners by U.S. soldiers.
“The number of escaped inmates has reached 500, most of them were convicted senior members of al Qaeda and had received death sentences,” Hakim Al-Zamili, a senior member of the security and defense committee in parliament, told Reuters.
“The security forces arrested some of them, but the rest are still free.”
One security official told Reuters on condition of anonymity: “It’s obviously a terrorist attack carried out by al Qaeda to free convicted terrorists with al Qaeda.”
A simultaneous attack on another prison, in Taji, around 20 km (12 miles) north of Baghdad, followed a similar pattern, but guards managed to prevent any inmates escaping. Sixteen soldiers and six militants were killed.
Sunni insurgents, including the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, have been regaining strength in recent months and striking on an almost daily basis against Shi’ite Muslims and security forces among other targets.
The violence has raised fears of a return to full-blown conflict in a country where Kurds, Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable way of sharing power.
In the northern city of Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives behind a military convoy in the eastern Kokchali district, killing at least 22 soldiers and three passers-by, police said.
Suicide bombings are the hallmark of al Qaeda, which has been regrouping in Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city and capital of the Sunni-dominated Nineveh province.
A separate attack in western Mosul killed four policemen, police said.
Relations between Islam’s two main denominations have been put under further strain from the civil war in Syria, which has drawn in Shi’ite and Sunni fighters from Iraq and beyond to fight against each other.
Recent attacks have targeted mosques, amateur football matches, shopping areas and cafes where people gather to socialize after breaking their daily fast for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
Nearly 600 people have been killed in militant attacks across Iraq so far this month, according to violence monitoring group Iraq Body Count.
That is still well below the height of bloodletting in 2006-07, when the monthly death toll sometimes exceeded 3,000.
(Additional reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Suadad al-Salhy in Baghdad; Writing by Isabel Coles; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
By Ahmed al-Rubaye – BAGHDAD
With 10 days still to go, July is already second deadliest month of 2013 with death toll significantly higher than those of January and February combined.
Iraqis roundly condemned the authorities on Sunday for failing to prevent a wave of deadly violence including attacks that killed dozens of people the day before.
Another five people were killed in bombings on Sunday as the country struggles against a surge in violence that has plagued it since the beginning of the year.
More than 530 people have been killed in attacks so far this month, and almost 2,800 since January 1, making it the worst year since 2008, according to figures based on security and medical sources.
On Sunday, the death toll continued to mount.
In Taji, north of Baghdad, two roadside bombs exploded near an army base, killing three people and wounding at least 10.
And a bomb exploded in the garden of a house in Besmayah, southeast of the capital, killing two people and wounding four, all from the same family.
The blasts came a day after Baghdad was hit by 12 car bombs, a roadside bomb and a shooting, while another bomb blew up south of the capital. A total of 67 people were killed.
Attacks elsewhere killed another three people on Saturday.
The Baghdad attacks came as residents turned out to shop and relax in cafes after iftar, the meal that breaks the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
On Sunday, Iraqis sharply criticized the authorities for failing to prevent the bloodshed.
“This is a cartoon government and its security forces cannot protect themselves, let alone protect the people,” one man said sadly near the site of one bombing in central Baghdad.
In Tobchi, a north Baghdad area hit in the Saturday attacks, another man resorted to sarcasm.
“These car bombs come to us from Mars, because the security forces are implementing strict regulations to prevent their entry here,” he said.
A third slammed the aloof attitude of the political elite, who rarely comment on the spiraling violence.
“Iraqis are being protected only by God, because the politicians only care about their positions and personal interests,” he said.
In the first 12 days of Ramadan, 334 people have been killed in Iraq violence.
And with 10 days still to go, July is already the second deadliest month of 2013 with a death toll significantly higher than those of January and February combined.
In May, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered a shake-up of senior security officers, but the violence has continued unabated.
Iraq has faced years of attacks by militants, but analysts say widespread discontent among members of its Sunni minority, which the government has failed to address, has fueled this year’s surge in unrest.
In addition to security problems, the government in Baghdad is also failing when it comes to other basic services including electricity and clean water, and corruption is also widespread.
Political squabbling has paralyzed the government, which has passed almost no major legislation in years.
Source: Middle East Online.
JEDDAH: P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR | ARAB NEWS STAFF
Thursday 18 July 2013
Madinah will have a major facelift shortly as plans have been made for its comprehensive development by implementing a number of projects including a metro system to meet the requirements of the city’s growing population and visitors.
Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman held talks with Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf along with Madinah Development Authority’s council members to develop the city’s public transport system.
“The governor has instructed to complete the project study quickly in order to present it to higher authorities for approval,” a senior official said.
“The transport project is an important component of a comprehensive development plan for Madinah,” he added.
The transport system includes a metro network and speedy bus services, in addition to parking facilities, fuel stations, maintenance centers and smart systems.
It is designed to provide quick access to the Haramain Railway that links Makkah and Madinah.
“The transport project will be carried out by phases following international standards,” said the official.
King Abdul Aziz Road, Hijrah Road and Al-Salam Road will also be developed as part of the project, which coincides with the Prophet’s Mosque expansion project.
Prince Faisal and the council members also discussed matters related to the mosque expansion project, especially the acquisition of land and demolition of hotels and buildings near the mosque, stressing the need to make alternative arrangements to meet shortage in housing facilities.
The council was weighing various options, including quick implementation of the newly planned pilgrim city to be established on an area of 1.6 million square meters along Hijrah Road with a capacity to house 200,000 pilgrims.
State-owned Public Investment Fund will finance the pilgrim city project, which includes a railway and bus station, offices of government agencies and a 400-bed hospital.
Source: Arab News.
15 July 2013
Some facts about the United Arab Emirates.
– The Emirates helped the Mubarak regime in Egypt every year in the amount of $ 12 billion, mainly with oil products. After the revolution and the overthrow of Mubarak, the UAE completely stopped helping Egypt. After the military coup the aid resumed.
The Emirates helped to get the US out of the economic crisis in 2010, signing a deal to buy weapons for $ 200 billion.
The Emirates helped Arizona (USA) after the famous hurricane in 2008 in the amount of 10 billion dollars, rebuilding all the schools of the state.
The Emirates expelled the majority of Syrians working in the country since the beginning of the revolution in Syria against Bashar al-Assad. In the UAE, the Syrians are not allowed to transfer money anywhere.
The Emirates helped the French in their crusade in Mali in the amount of $ 7 billion – to help the French to prevent establishing the Sharia law by Muslims in the country.
The Emirates spent on the celebration of a so-called New Year nearly $ 2 billion.
The Emirates is a haven for all those who are hiding from law such as Ahmad Shafiq and war criminals, such as Dahlan, and the family of Bashar al-Assad.
The Emirates is the nest of American and European intelligence services in the region. After the overthrow of Mubarak, all intelligence agencies moved from Egypt to the UAE.
The Emirates is a world center of money laundering and arms sales, as well as prostitution. A single trip to Dubai will be enough to confirm all this.
The Emirates gave credit to a well-known Serbian war criminal, accused of genocide of Muslims in the amount of $ 400 million with a very sympathetic repayment scheme.
The Emirates deprived of citizenship many Islamic scholars and preachers, such as Ibrahim al-Marzouqi, Hussain Al-Jaber, and the others were expelled from the Emirates, and many of those who observed diligence in prayer and observance of Islam, as well as proper care for the Ummah.
On the request of Putin, the Emirates welcomes and befriends Kadyrov and Chechen apostates, helping them with money, false “sheikhs” and fake “relics” of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
UAE Emir Mohammed bin Zayed vowed to overthrow Ikhwans (Muslim Brotherhood) in Egypt, even if it would cost him the entire budget of Abu Dhabi. And he fulfilled his promise.
The Emirates is a fully fledged sponsor of the French campaign against Muslims in Mali, as well as a safe haven for the entire American terrorist organization Blackwater in Baghdad.
In the Emirates, the Americans found friendly hospitality (CIA base in Jebel Ali) for interrogating and torturing all the prisoners: the Mujahideen or all those “suspected” of involvement in Jihad, or just Muslims, “blacklisted” by the CIA.
All Masonic meetings of Rotary clubs and Lions are being held in the UAE.
In the Emirates, they build churches and Buddhist temples, although the Prophet (pbuh) bequeathed to this world, as one of the last instructions by him, an order to expel all polytheists from the Arabian Peninsula.
Question: Which religion and Community does the UAE belong to?
By Salman al Bulgari
Department of Monitoring
Source: Kavkaz Center.
Aiming to reduce both its greenhouse emissions and its use of hydrocarbons to generate power, Qatar is looking to embrace solar technology.
This could lead to the development of a local industry with the potential for exports in the longer term, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.
On January 9 the international press reported that Qatar was looking to launch an initiative to support the development of alternative energy sources in the Gulf. The announcement was made by Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, the Minister of Economy and Energy, at an electricity conference in Doha. Al Sada said that Qatar would launch pilot schemes in the solar sector as part of a 200MW solar project announced last year.
The initial phase, which is due to be tendered in the coming months, will see small-scale plants generating 5MW-10MW each, installed on underutilized land. Last year the cost of this stage was estimated at $30m. Phase two will involve assessment of the initial sites, with a view to bringing in private investment to increase solar capacity.
Officials at the conference asserted the importance of boosting generation capacity in the Gulf, as well as broadening the energy mix and increasing the proportion of power generated by renewables.
Al Sada said that greater use of renewables could help reduce the use of natural gas to produce power. Qatar is one of the world’s leading gas exporters, and also has a growing petrochemicals industry and substantial desalination needs. Greater diversification of power sources would free more gas for these purposes. Currently, all the country’s electricity comes from oil- and gas-fired plants. Another reason for wishing to increase green energy output and reduce the use of hydrocarbons is environmental.
With these issues in mind, Qatar aims to generate 20% of its energy from renewables by 2024, and have 1800MW of installed green capacity by 2020. These are ambitious targets given the current generation mix, but not an unobtainable one, thanks to the financial resources at its disposal and its year-round sun, which makes it well suited for solar development.
While solar power is still a relatively expensive source – particularly compared to Qatar’s cheap and abundant gas – scientists are increasingly confident that technology will be developed over the coming years to make it more efficient and thus cost-effective.
One driving force behind renewables development in the state is Qatar Solar Technologies (QSTec), a venture between the Qatar Foundation, a semi-private non-governmental organisation backed by the royal family; Germany’s SolarWorld; and the government-owned Qatar Development Bank.
In May 2012 QSTec secured financing for a $1bn polysilicon plant in Ras Laffan City, north of Doha. The factory will have initial annual production of 8000 tonnes of polysilicon and will produce enough for photovoltaic panels generating 6.5GW when at full capacity.
A number of international companies are also involved in research and development in the solar sector in Qatar. US energy giant Chevron, best known for its hydrocarbons activities, is investing $10m in the Center for Sustainable Energy Efficiency (CSEE) at Qatar Science & Technology Park, with another $10m coming from local clean energy firm GreenGulf.
The CSEE was inaugurated in March 2011 and aims to develop solar technology that is suited to Qatar’s climate and the specific needs of its energy users. One of the issues that Chevron aims to address is building solar panels that can perform in the hot and dusty Gulf environment. With very little rain, panels can get clogged with sand and dust, and thus absorb less sunlight. According to Chevron, their effectiveness can be reduced by as much as 40% after six months. Photovoltaics also operate less effectively in high temperatures.
As well as working on technology for power plants, the CSEE is researching the potential of harnessing solar energy for uses such as desalination and air conditioning, as well as energy efficiency measures.
Other international firms investing in solar research in Qatar include General Electric, Shell and ConocoPhillips, while the Doha campus of Texas A&M University has a project working on using solar energy to break down natural gas into carbon and hydrogen for industrial uses.
Renewables are still in their early days in Qatar, and an important caveat is that solar power is still considerably less efficient and more expensive than the state’s abundant gas. However, the country has the financial resources to invest in solar research and development and has put itself at the cutting edge of technical advances in the industry. If development continues at this pace, Qatar could become a leader in solar technology. QSTec’s potential capacity could also leave scope for export, while the work being done at CSEE and Texas A&M should, if successful, be applicable elsewhere in the region, and the world.
Source: Global Arab Network.