Shooting in Syria could mark new phase in Israeli campaign
Shooting in Syria could mark new phase in Israeli campaign/node/1949786/middle-east
Shooting in Syria could mark new phase in Israeli campaign
Druse supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad wave Syrian flags during a rally close to the Syrian border demanding the return of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in 1967, in Majdal Shams, Golan Heights. (AP/File)
Shooting in Syria could mark new phase in Israeli campaign
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed the strategic territory
Updated 18 October 2021
JERUSALEM: The death of a former Syrian Druze lawmaker, allegedly by Israeli sniper fire, could mark a new phase in what Israel calls its war against Iranian entrenchment in neighboring Syria.
Syria’s state-run news agency said that Midhat Saleh was fatally shot Saturday in Ein el-Tinneh, a village along the Israeli frontier in the Golan Heights where he ran a Syrian government office. Israeli media said Saleh had been assisting the Iranian military against Israel.
The Israeli military declined to comment, but if Saleh was indeed killed by Israel, it would mark the first time that Israeli snipers are known to have killed someone identified as an Iranian-linked target across the border. Israel has said it will not tolerate a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria and has acknowledged carrying out scores of airstrikes on alleged Iranian arms shipments and military targets in Syria in recent years.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed the strategic territory, which overlooks northern Israel. Most of the world does not recognize the annexation, though the Trump administration declared the territory to be part of Israel.
Saleh was born in Majdal Shams, in the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan, and was jailed several times by Israel, most recently for 12 years until 1997. He later moved to Syria, was elected to parliament in 1998 and served as an adviser to the government on the Golan issue.
The small Druze community living in the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan generally has good relations with Israel. But many members still profess loyalty to Syria, in part because they have relatives on the other side of the border.
Samih Ayoub, a resident on the Israeli side of the Golan, told Israel’s Army Radio station Saleh had “no connection” to Iran or to any militia. “He’s just a quiet man who works in an office. They killed him next to his house,” he said.
Saleh’s brother, Yasser Saleh, a doctor in Damascus, said his brother also lived in the Syrian capital but visited the border area periodically, slept there and sometimes spoke with relatives across the frontier. He said his younger brother had survived an earlier assassination attempt in early 2011 and remained committed to ending Israel’s control over the Golan Heights until the end. He said his brother was survived by a wife and two children, including a son named Golan.
While there was no official comment, Israeli military commentators — who are given high-level background briefings with top army brass — said Saleh was intimately involved in assisting the Iranians build up their capabilities along the Israeli front. Iran has sent thousands of forces to Syria to back the army of President Bashar Assad during the country’s decade-long civil war.
“He answered directly to the Iranians,” wrote Yossi Yehoshua, a military correspondent for Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s largest paid daily newspaper.
Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser, told Army Radio that if Israel killed Saleh, it was meant to send a message to the Iranians and not connected to the past. “I assume this was not an act of revenge,” he said. “We’re not talking about a mass murderer.”
Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow and expert on Iran at the Institute for National Security Studies, a Tel Aviv think tank, said it was not a sure thing that Israel had even been involved. He said that Saleh was not an especially valuable target and also had tense relations with Iranian proxy Hezbollah and objected to the group’s activities in the Golan.
But he said that if Israel did indeed kill Saleh through an unprecedented sniper attack, it sent a powerful message to Iran and Syria about their activities near the Israeli border.
“It says that we have many ways and many techniques,” he said. “We’re watching you.”
Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora speaks to journalists in front of the Coburg palace after a meeting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in Vienna. (AFP)
Tehran ‘deserves no sanctions relief in return for its brutality’
Updated 19 sec ago
Iran and world powers resumed talks on Monday after a five-month hiatus to try to salvage their 2015 nuclear deal, but with Tehran sticking to its tough stance and Western powers warning that it will not work, hopes of a breakthrough appeared slim.
Diplomats say time is running out to resurrect the pact, which then-US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, angering Iran and dismaying the other powers involved — Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia.
Six rounds of indirect talks were held between April and June.
The new round formally began with a meeting of the remaining parties to the deal, without the US, shortly after 2 p.m. GMT.
Enrique Mora, the EU official chairing the talks, said Tehran stuck to its demand that all sanctions be lifted.
But he added that he was positive after the first discussions in Vienna with the new Iranian negotiators, who, Mora said, had shown a desire to engage seriously.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in a video address delivered to nations negotiating in Vienna, warned that he saw Iran trying to “end sanctions in exchange for almost nothing.”
In the video that he later posted to Twitter, Bennett said: “Iran deserves no rewards, no bargain deals and no sanctions relief in return for their brutality.”
He added: “I call upon our allies around the world: Do not give in to Iran’s nuclear blackmail.”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called the meeting “the last opportunity for the Iranians to come to the table” after a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.
“We want those talks to work,” Truss said. “But if they don’t work, all options are on the table.”
In an interview with NPR broadcast on Friday, US negotiator Robert Malley said signs from Iran “are not particularly encouraging.”
Russian envoy Mikhail Ulyanov said there was pressure to get the process moving after “a very protracted pause.”
“The talks can’t last forever,” he tweeted.
“There is the obvious need to speed up the process.”
Monday’s meeting in Vienna ended an extended break triggered by the election of Ebrahim Raisi in June as Iran’s president.
The talks are effectively indirect negotiations between Tehran and Washington since Iran refuses to meet face-to-face with US envoys. Other officials shuttle between them.
Tehran’s negotiating team has set out demands that US and European diplomats consider unrealistic, Western diplomats say.
Iran has adopted an uncompromising position by demanding removal of all US and EU sanctions imposed since 2017, including those unrelated to its nuclear program, in a verifiable process.
Arab coalition targets Iran Revolutionary Guard experts in Sanaa
Updated 56 min 27 sec ago
RIYADH: The Arab coalition struck Iranian Revolutionary Guard experts in Yemen’s capital, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The coalition asked civilians in Sanaa not to gather near the targeted sites.
The operation complies with international humanitarian law and its customary rules, the coalition said.
The coalition has hit a number of sites in the capital in the past few weeks in an effort to deteriorate the capabilities of the Iran-backed Houthi militia.
Previous attacks have targeted drone warehouses and experts belonging to Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
The Houthis repeatedly target the Kingdom with bomb-laden drones, mostly without causing much damage because of Saudi air defenses.
Houthi attempts to target civilians has been labeled as war crimes by the Kingdom.
The Arab coalition has been supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government regain full control of the country after the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, in 2014.
Saudi Arabia has previously said that a political solution is the only way to permanent peace in Yemen. Launched in March, the Riyadh Initiative aimed to do just that. The plan includes a nationwide ceasefire and as well as of peace talks. However, the Houthi leadership has rejected the plan.
The war, which has now lasted for seven years, has cost thousands of Yemenis their lives and has forced many more to depend on humanitarian assistance.
Libyan presidential hopefuls petition against PM’s candidacy
Updated 30 min 55 sec ago
TRIPOLI: Candidates for Libya’s presidential election have petitioned against the interim prime minister’s bid and a Tripoli court is to examine their request, media reports said Sunday.
Influential former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha was among several presidential hopefuls to have filed appeals against Premier Abdulhamid Dbeibeh’s candidacy, the reports said.
The Tripoli appeals court accepted their petitions and will examine them before giving a ruling.
If it rejects Dbeibeh’s bid, he will have 72 hours to appeal, according to the reports.
A source close to Bashagha told AFP the court would look specifically into complaints that Dbeibeh did not resign his post three months before submitting his candidacy, in accordance with Libya’s electoral law.
The December 24 polls come as part of a push to end a decade of violence in oil-rich Libya following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Libya’s electoral commission HNEC said earlier this month it had rejected the candidacy of Qaddafi’s son, Seif Al-Islam Qaddafi.
He was among 25 candidates rejected on legal grounds as well as based on information from officials, including the public prosecutor, it said.
For Seif Al-Islam, the HNEC pointed to articles of the electoral law stipulating that candidates “must not have been sentenced for a dishonorable crime” and must present a clean criminal record.
Seif Al-Islam is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes committed during the Libyan uprising.
He was also sentenced to death by a Tripoli court for crimes committed during the revolt that toppled his father, but later pardoned by a rival administration in eastern Libya.
A total of 98 candidates, including two women, had registered for the December polls, according to the HNEC.
Among the most notable hopefuls is Khalifa Haftar, leader of the self-styled Libyan National Army in control of the country’s east and parts of the south.
Dbeibeh, 62, had promised during talks with the UN that he would not stand in the presidential polls.
A Middle East hospitality project pushes the boundaries of sustainable construction
Developers of Dubai’s Heart of Europe resort say sustainability is at the core of the project
The project features a 1 km “Rainy Street,” an outdoor snow plaza and the world’s first floating smart police station
Updated 30 November 2021
DUBAI: From forest fires and landslides to desertification and flooding, the effects of climate change increasingly are manifesting in all manner of destructive ways, laying waste to animal and plant habitats and vulnerable rural communities.
But urban areas not immune to the risks either and, as such, they too are being forced to adapt.
The UN has warned that by 2030 greenhouse-gas emissions need to be reduced by between 25 and 55 percent of 2017 levels. With these figures in mind, developers are exploring innovative ways to reduce the carbon footprint of cities while also improving the quality of life for residents.
Josef Kleindienst is one of them. He is the chairman of Kleindienst Group, the deverloper of the Heart of Europe project that is underway in Dubai. Rather than simply build sustainably, the firm says it aims to change the climate.
The Heart of Europe occupies a section of Dubai’s World Islands, a collection of man-made islands off the coast of the city built in the shape of a map of the world. When complete, it is expected to be be an upscale, eco-friendly resort showcasing the use of the latest technology to mitigate the effects of climate change in urban locations.
According to the developer, Heart of Europe will include, among other things, a cooling, climate-controlled Rainy Street, an outdoor snow plaza and the world’s first floating, smart police station.
“The vision was to create a touristic project while bringing in innovation on these islands,” Kleindienst told Arab News.
“The islands project was launched in 2003, and a coral nursery was built on a structure, producing 100,000 corals a year to plant on our reefs. The interesting part for me is that Dubai always had futuristic visions, and this is pure sustainability.”
According to the developer, sustainability is at the core of the Heart of Europe, which will include more than 500,000 square meters of coral reef, and olive trees from Andalusia in southern Spain.
The project, once operational, will feature sustainable landscaping that is free of pesticides and fungicides, and irrigated with recycled water, says the developer. It will be automobile-free, powered by clean energy and will eventually offer visitors sustainable water transportation.
Solar panels will supply much of the resort’s power requirements, while its water supply will be completely recycled and reused for purposes such as flushing toilets and watering plants, says the developer.
It adds that, in addition, the Heart of Europe will have zero-discharge and zero-microplastics policies to help protect marine life around the islands, and the wider waters of the Arabian Gulf.
The Coral Institute, an in-house research and development center, has been entrusted with creating new coral reefs, helping to expand the marine ecosystem, and working to rebalance the underwater environment as part of Kleindienst Group’s Corporate Social Responsibility program.
Beginning next year, the institute also plans to regenerate and develop corals from 10 reefs and diving sites around the globe, according to the Kleindienst Group.
• The Heart of Europe has a zero-discharge and zero microplastics policy to ensure the protection of the Arabian Gulf and marine life.
• It is powered by solar and hydro fuels, has pesticide and fungicide free landscaping, a car-free environment, and recycles water.
In 2018, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development published a report on the megatrends that are shaping the future of tourism. It said sustainable tourism is a growth area that will radically change the industry. Tourism is a resource-intensive human activity, it said, yet it can play a pivotal role in driving the transition to a low-carbon and resource-efficient economy.
“Due to its cross-cutting nature and close connections to numerous sectors, even small improvements will have important impacts,” the report said.
“It will become increasingly important for governments and industry to work together in a proactive approach to ensure the sustainable development and management of attractions for the benefit and enjoyment of local communities and tourists.”
Countries, cities, islands and other destinations that fail to embrace the sustainability trend will most likely lose business, because consumers are growing increasingly concerned about the environment, it added.
“Dubai has been looking to do this since 2003, because they added a zero-discharge regulation on these islands,” Kleindienst said. “We are not allowed to discharge anything that could pollute the air or the water. This is as sustainable as it can be if you want to protect the environment.”
One of the novel innovations in the Heart of Europe development, according to Kleindienst, is the Rainy Street, a 1km thoroughfare that uses sensor-controlled technology to generate precipitation that helps to provide visitors with a comfortable climate even during scorching summer temperatures that can surpass 50 degrees Celsius.
Along the street, which will host shops, restaurants and bars, an ambient air temperature of about 27 degrees Celsius will be maintained through the using of state-of-the-art technology that can literally control the outdoor climate.
“We invited consultants and specialists from around the world to bring us solutions,” Kleindienst said.
“The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Institute in Germany is number one when it comes to building these technologies, which use water and remove humidity from the air. When the temperature goes above 27 degrees Celsius and humidity hits 60 percent, it releases rain.”
Another climate-control innovation is the snow plaza, according to the Kleindienst Group. It uses a similar concept to the air conditioning systems used in malls, which cool water to 5 degrees Celsius to create cool air. By further reducing the water temperature to 2 C, snow can be generated.
“We started working on the technologies in 2008 and we’re now ready,” Kleindienst said. “It took over 4 years (just) to develop, test and optimize the technology required to achieve the vision for the masterplan. We tested it on the hottest days in the middle of summer and it works — it will come from a piping system, just like in the movies.”
The Heart of Europe’s initial soft opening began on Oct. 28 with the connection of all utilities. About 300 technical tests will be carried out over the course of a month and, if all goes to plan, it will soon begin to welcome guests at a reduced capacity ahead of its full launch with opening of the Monaco boutique hotel. But Dubai could be just the start.
“We have been invited to Saudi Arabia and Egypt to discuss projects there, but our goal is to complete this project first before discussing expansion,” Kleindienst said.
COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, which took place in Glasgow, Scotland, this month, has once again highlighted the importance of issues such as sustainability and conservation. Kleindienst said his company is rising to the challenge.
“We should take care of the environment,” he added. “We didn’t know how fast climate change would come and how significant the impact would be on our lives.
“We must bring back the planet, the climate and nature to how it was before, and sustain it for our children and their children. It’s a big obligation for us.”
In line with the growing trend toward sustainability, eco-friendly tourism projects are being launched across the region. The Hatta Sustainable Waterfalls in Dubai, for example, is due for completion at Hatta Dam by November next year. The falls will collect water, recycle it and pump it back to the top of the dam.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, launched the Sustainable Tourism Global Center last month. The global travel and tourism sector is responsible for about 8 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, and the Kingdom has therefore prioritized support for the sector to help accelerate its transition to net zero.
“(These emissions are) expected to grow if we don’t act now,” Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s minister of tourism, said at the official launch of the center.
“Tourism is also a highly fragmented sector; 80 percent of businesses in tourism are small and medium-sized enterprises who rely on guidance and support from sector leadership. The sector must be part of the solution.”
The Kingdom is working with global partners that prioritize tourism, small and medium enterprises and the climate to create a broad coalition that can lead the tourism industry’s transition to net zero, he added.
“By working together and delivering a strong joint platform, the tourism sector will have the support it needs. The STGC will facilitate growth while making tourism better for the climate, nature and communities,” Al-Khateeb said.
Turkey’s Erdogan says he will visit UAE in February
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan oversaw the signing of nearly a dozen cooperation deals during the latter’s visit to Ankara last week
Erdogan hailed the visit of the crown prince as a ‘step that is instrumental in starting a new era between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates’
Updated 29 November 2021
ANKARA, Turkey: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he plans to pay a return visit to the United Arab Emirates in February as the two countries move to put years of tense relations behind them.
Abu Dhabi’s crown prince visited Ankara last week, making his first official trip to Turkey since 2012 and the highest-level visit by an Emirati official since relations between the two countries hit a low.
Erdogan and the crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, oversaw the signing of nearly a dozen cooperation deals during the visit, while a top Emirati official said the UAE has earmarked $10 billion for investment in Turkey.
Erdogan told a group of journalists on his return from a trip to Turkmenistan late Sunday that the crown prince’s visit took place in an “almost family like” environment and hailed the visit as a “step that is instrumental in starting a new era between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.”
“God willing, I will make a return visit to the UAE in February,” Erdogan told journalists, adding that the country’s foreign minister and intelligence chief would travel before him to prepare the groundwork. His comments were reported by the state-run Anadolu Agency and other media on Monday.
Turkey is trying to mend its frayed ties with regional powers after finding itself increasingly isolated internationally.
Erdogan told journalists on board his plane that Turkey plans to mend with other regional powers — including Egypt and Israel — in the same way that it is with the UAE, and would reappoint ambassadors to those countries.