Kurds near Turkey border dread fresh offensive

People attend the funeral of a fighter from the Syrian Democratic Forces in the northern Syrian town of Kobani. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2018
0

Kurds near Turkey border dread fresh offensive

  • Villagers in northeastern Syria seek protection from bombardment
  • The village of Ashma is nestled in olive groves in the region of Kobani and directly looks out onto the Turkish flags and wire fencing that mark the demarcation line

ASHMA: Chimo Osman’s children stopped going to school after Turkish shelling struck his home in northeastern Syria, where Kurdish residents fear another military onslaught is imminent.

In recent days, cross-border Turkish artillery fire has targeted positions held by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the main Kurdish militia in Syria.

Ankara sees the de-facto autonomous rule set up by Syrian Kurds as an encouragement to the separatists of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has close ties to the YPG.

The village of Ashma is nestled in olive groves in the region of Kobani and directly looks out onto the Turkish flags and wire fencing that mark the demarcation line.

The streets of this village and others along the border are empty: “We can’t even venture on the roof anymore,” said Osman.

“We don’t leave the house, the kids are scared,” said the 38-year-old, standing on the steps leading to his front door, with his five children huddled around him.

Nobody can predict when the Turkish forces stationed on the other side of the border will open fire, he said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Oct. 30 that plans for an assault were complete and vowed to “destroy” the YPG, which he considers a terrorist organization.

One salvo punched a large hole in the second floor of Osman’s house and several other homes in the village were damaged by Turkish fire.

Five YPG fighters and a child have been killed in Turkish shelling that has in recent days mostly targeted Kurdish positions in the Kobani and Tal Abyad areas, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

The YPG is the backbone of an outfit known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is the US-led coalition’s main local ally in its battle against Daesh.

To protest against the Turkish attacks, SDF forces late last month announced they were suspending their involvement in military operations against one of the very last terrorist pockets in eastern Syria.

The move was aimed at obtaining guarantees from their US sponsors that Turkey would not seek to move in across the border as they did in the Kurdish-dominated enclave of Afrin earlier this year.

According to the Britain-based Observatory, more than 330 Kurdish fighters have already perished in the course of the latest offensive against Daesh.

Many fighters waging this deadly battle on terrorists in their remote desert hideouts feel they would rather die protecting their ancestral land from Turkey.

In Kobani cemetery, hundreds of people attended the funeral on Tuesday of an SDF fighter who became the latest casualty of the terrorists' bloody last stand in the Hajjin region.

Women wept over the coffin as patriotic songs were blared on speakers and local officials gave speeches condemning the Turkish bombardment.

“The Turkish state is hostile to the Kurds and we have the right to respond to any attack,” Esmat Sheikh Hassan, a Kobani military official, said at the funeral.

“They don’t differentiate between soldiers and civilians. They strike inhabited villages,” he said, replying to Ankara’s claims its forces only strike military targets.

Hamo Masibkeradi, one of the residents who came to attend the funeral, points to the rows of marble tombstones that mark the graves of fighters who died fighting against Daesh.

“These martyrs fell for humanity. The international community should help us,” he said.

“Erdogan wants to wipe us out. The US cannot allow this injustice.”


Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

Updated 21 November 2018
0

Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

  • A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000
  • To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor

CAIRO: In an attempt to further boost its booming real estate sector and attract foreign investment, Egypt will grant residency permits to foreigners who invest at least $100,000 in the country’s property market.
The growth rate of Egypt’s property market stands at 133 percent in 2018. This has been fueled by strong demand for housing, along with the sporadic launch of residential construction projects.
The minimum investment required to obtain a residency permit is $100,000. A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000. The offer also applies to properties that are still under construction.
Khaled Abbas, the deputy minister of housing, said the procedures for the scheme are being set up in consultation with the Passport, Immigration and Nationality Administration.
To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor, and then signed by an authorized body, such the Urban Communities Authority, the Tourism Development Authority or the governorate in which the property is located. Bank statements must also be provided confirming that the money has been transferred from overseas. The passport office will then approve the period of residence.
Members of the House of Representatives welcomed the announcement as a positive move for Egypt and an incentive for foreign investment, which it is hoped will create jobs and economic opportunities.
Whether the public will be so keen remains to be seen.
“This might be a bit problematic,” said Aly Salem, a resident of Cairo. “The housing demand in Egypt is already high, with the surging youth population and more and more people looking to get married each year. Where will they stay, if foreigners start swooping in and acquiring both residency and a huge housing unit with just $100,000?”
Offering further details, Gen. Kamel Amer, the head of the Parliament’s Defense and National Security Committee, said foreigners will not have any political rights for the first five years of residency and they will not be eligible to vote for 10 years. He also said spouses and children of investors will not be granted residency unless they live in Egypt.
Spain and Portugal have implemented similar programs in an attempt to boost their property markets. Previously, a foreigner had to live in Egypt for 10 consecutive years to be eligible for naturalization.
The new residency law is part of the efforts to repair the damage to Egypt’s economy caused by severe austerity measures imposed after the $12 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.
The cost and size of properties in Egypt, which are often large and lavish apartments, compare favorably to those in many other countries. Despite this, few Egyptians can afford to pay for a house upfront, but some private property developers are offering 10-year, interest-free installment plans.