UK, European holidaymakers warned against Turkey travel as government blames Kurdish militia for unrest

British tourists are being told to be vigilant if traveling to Turkey after security officials warned of “terror nests” in bordering countries, especially Kurdish militia. (AFP)
Updated 28 April 2019

UK, European holidaymakers warned against Turkey travel as government blames Kurdish militia for unrest

  • Despite Daesh militants attacking foreigners and Turkish citizens in recent years, the Turkish government has said Kurdish militia are to blame for unrest
  • British citizens told to avoid all travel within 10 kilometers of the Syrian border

LONDON: British tourists are being told to be vigilant if traveling to Turkey after security officials warned of “terror nests” in bordering countries posing a significant threat to holidaymakers, Anadolu News Agency reported on Sunday,
The Anadolu statement said that cells in Afrin “pose a threat to Turkey.”
The warning comes as more Europeans — especially tourists from the UK — travel to Turkey for their summer holidays. UK nationals made up 2.3 million of annual visits to the country in 2018.
Despite Daesh militants attacking foreigners and Turkish citizens in recent years, the Turkish government has said Kurdish militia are to blame for the unrest.
Anadolu tweeted: “There are currently 8,000-10,000 terrorists in the Afrin region near Aleppo, near the Turkish-Syrian border, which has been besieged by the PYD/PKK.
“Terrorists are now hiding in shelters and pits in residential areas in Afrin after Turkey pointed out the region was a nest for terrorists
“No US soldiers are currently in Afrin while around 100 Russian military police are located in Tel Rifat, Tel Acar and Kefer Cenne areas.”
86 people were killed in a bomb blast in the capital Ankara in 2015, while a further 45 were killed during an attack on Ataturk Airport a year later. Meanwhile, in 2017, 39 revellers were killed in Istanbul as they welcomed the new year.
The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as of April 28, is telling British citizens to avoid all travel within 10 kilometers of the Syrian border, with a warning that states: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Turkey. Terrorist groups, including Kurdish groups, Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) and far left organizations, continue to plan and carry out attacks.”
Speaking to the UK’s Daily Star last year, Michael McCabe, CEO of risk awareness experts Intelligence Fusion, said the country faces a number of new crises, which could put holidaymakers at risk.
“President Erdogan’s government faces a range of diverse internal and external threats,” he said.
“The conflicts in Iraq and Syria on its border, separatist Kurdish groups, and significant opposition to the government.”


Water-scarce Gulf states bank on desalination, at a cost

Updated 12 December 2019

Water-scarce Gulf states bank on desalination, at a cost

  • For Oman and other Gulf states dominated by vast deserts, obtaining fresh water from the sea comes at a high cost
  • In Sur, water for residents and businesses comes from a large desalination plant

SUR, OMAN: “We have water, and it’s the most important thing in a house,” says Abdullah Al-Harthi from the port city of Sur in Oman, a country that relies on desalination plants.
But for Oman and the other Gulf countries dominated by vast and scorching deserts, obtaining fresh water from the sea comes at a high financial and environmental cost.
In Sur, south of the capital Muscat, water for residents and businesses comes from a large desalination plant that serves some 600,000 people.
“Before, life was very difficult. We had wells, and water was delivered by trucks,” the 58-year-old told AFP. “Since the 1990s, water has come through pipes and we’ve had no cuts.”
But these benefits — relying on energy intensive processes that produce carbon emissions — do not come without a cost, particularly as global temperatures rise.
The United Nations says 2019 is on course to be one of the hottest three years on record.
And there is another impact: the desalination plants produce highly concentrated salt water, or brine, that is often dumped back into the ocean.
Researchers say more than 16,000 desalination plants around the globe produce more toxic sludge than freshwater.
For every liter of freshwater extracted from the sea or brackish water, a liter-and-a-half of salty slurry is deposed at sea or on land, according to a 2019 study in the journal Science.
All that extra salt raises the temperature of coastal waters and decreases the level of oxygen, which can conspire to create biological “dead zones.”
The super-salty substance is made even more toxic by the chemicals used in the desalination process.
Oman’s bigger neighbors produce the bulk of the brine.
More than half comes from just four countries — Saudi Arabia, at 22 percent, United Arab Emirates with 20 percent, and smaller shares by Kuwait and Qatar, according to UN data.
“Brine production in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar accounts for 55 percent of the total global share,” according to the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health.
It said new strategies are needed “to limit the negative environmental impacts and reduce the economic cost of disposal.”
This would help “to safeguard water supplies for current and future generations.”
At the Sur plant, “almost no chemicals” are used during the pre-treatment phase, as the water is naturally filtered through the cracks of karst rocks, said Mahendran Senapathy, operations manager at French company Veolia which runs the plant along with an Omani firm.
There are other ways to safeguard freshwater supplies, from encouraging savings and efficiently to recycling wastewater.
Antoine Frerot, chief executive of Veolia, said wastewater recycling will help resolve the problem of water scarcity.
He also pointed out that “reused water is less costly,” nearly one third less than that won through desalination.
Omani authorities continue to mount campaigns urging people to use water wisely, mindful that other demands — especially the energy sector — also guzzle up large amounts.
Across the Gulf, huge amounts of water are used not just for homes, gardens and golf courses, but also for the energy sector that is the source of the region’s often spectacular wealth.
On the edge of the Arabian peninsula’s “Empty Quarter,” the world’s largest expanse of sand, lies the Khazzan gas field, operated by BP and the Oman Oil Company.
The method used to extract the gas here is hydraulic fracturing — more commonly known as fracking — said Stewart Robertson, operations manager at the site.
The method requires huge amounts of water. The site is supplied by a facility that provides 6,000 cubic meters of water a day, extracted from an underground aquifer 50 kilometers (30 miles) away.
Fracking involves directional drilling and then pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to fracture rock and release the hydrocarbons.
The rock formations that hold the gas are “like a big sponge with lots of little holes in it,” said Robertson, explaining that fracking is the process “to open those holes slightly to take the gas out.”
So the more the region extracts oil and natural or shale gas, “the more they need water,” said Charles Iceland of the World Resources Institute.
“The Middle East is projected to need more and more energy,” he said. “So that means the situation is going to get worse.”
“On the other hand,” he said, “if they can produce power using solar photovoltaic technologies, which are getting reasonably priced in the Middle East, that would take care of a lot of the problem because solar PV doesn’t need much water.
“You need just some water to clean the solar panels.”