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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Green Prophet Headlines – Turning words into energy at ‘Powering the Middle East’ in Jordan.

Link to Green Prophet

Turning words into energy at ‘Powering the Middle East’ in Jordan

Posted: 18 Apr 2014 on Green Prophet.

It starts by saying: Many conferences end in handshakes and no action, but Powering the Middle East aims to close deals.
This two day summit in Amman, hosted by HRH Prince Assem Bin Nayef from Jordan, will connect energy and water players
in the private sector with government officials capable of turning words into real projects. Hit the jump for details.

Apart from the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) sponsored by Masdar in Abu Dhabi, few summits in the Middle East region are designed to not only talk about the issues but to act on them.

Part of the Power Strategy Summit Series which will convene in Brazil, South Africa and other countries, Powering the Middle East will bring together governments from 10 Middle Eastern countries and vested players in the private sector that together aim to turn worthwhile, meaningful, scalable projects to fruition.

An agenda advisory board will conduct ongoing surveys to ensure that the topics broached in panel sessions on 17 and 18 September, 2014 are absolutely the most relevant.

Members of this board include Alice Cowan, Program Director of The Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC), Loay Ghazeleh, Undersecretary Advisor on Major Infrastructure & PPP at Ministry of Works, Bahrain and Kishan Khoday, Regional Practice Leader for Environment & Energy at United Nations Development Program.

Unlike the WFES, which is like a small city when in full attendance, Powering the Middle East restricts delegates to 125 people with a 70/30 public to private split to ensure that the conference is manageable. And since quality is better than quantity, some of the most important businesses involved in the Middle East’s renewables industry will be there.

JinkoSolarco, Sun Edison, Tata Power, and First Solar are among the firms that will send representatives to meet up with governments from Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman, among others along with Ministers of Utilities, Academic and research institutes and Public sector bodies.

Related: Jordan moves ahead on its first solar PV project worth 52 megawatts

Fundamentally, this two-day conference aims to “erode the barriers to uptake of renewable energy sources and improve electrification in these economically growing and important regions.

The posting notes that “The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is sending Dr Mustapha Taoumi, MENA Program officer as a representative, which speaks volumes about the summit’s expected efficacy.”

“Renewable energy presents a powerful opportunity for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to achieve a globally important position in the renewable energy market – a market which is likely to become the cornerstone of the low-carbon green economy of the future,” Taoumi said in a recent statement.

“At Powering Middle East, IRENA will offer ideas on the business models most likely to attract investors and it will contribute to important discussions about policy and regulation, institutional frameworks, grid infrastructure, financial resources and capacity building.”

If you or your organization could benefit and fits the above criteria, be sure to register now for what is likely going to a game-changing event that could catalyze a host of important developments in the MENA region.
Visit: www.ese-power.com/register to get involved.

We hope indeed that above is not just another talk-fest as Jordan really does not have money to waste like some of the other Middle East States. We also hope that the Jordanians will have the courage to host Israeli technology – their closest neighbors as well. Indeed some Palestinian companies are ahead as well having worked with the Israelis Further, having invited Sun Edison we hope that Jigar Shah will speak to at these panels and present there that you can indeed make money from renewables if you are ready to strike away all conventional thinking that attributes to oil, gas and coal all what is an energy based economy.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 25th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Green Prophet Headlines – Ship Carrying Thick Black Bitumen Sinks off Oman’s Pristine Coast
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Posted: 25 Jun 2013

Oman, oil spill, bitumen, Cypriot vessel, environmental disasters, Gulf of Oman, marine life, nature, travel, scuba divingA ship carrying thick black bitumen sank off the coast of Oman on Sunday and its contents are now floating on the Gulf of Oman – about 40km east of the capital Muscat. Unlike Egyptian authorities, however, who frequently attempt to cover up oil spills in the Red Sea, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs responded swiftly and openly to the crisis.

The Iranian captain of the Cypriot vessel sent an SOS message to the Sultan Qaboos Port control tower when water began to gush into the ship, and two tugboats were dispatched to the scene.

By the time they arrived, the captain was dead and the ship had sunk, but authorities were able to rescue nine Indian sailors that were also on the boat.

The coast guard transported the sailors to the Royal Oman Police Hospital for care, according to Gulf News.

“We have formed a team of environmental experts to monitor the impact of the cargo spill from the ship,” Sulaiman Bin Nasser Al Akhzami, a senior official at the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, said on Sunday.

The ministry called on private companies to help contain the spill to ensure that it would do minimum damage to Oman’s pristine marine environment and nearby desalination plants.

Booms placed around the spill are expected to prevent further spread, but the environment ministry has called on citizens to keep an eye out for possible oil slick.

Unlike Egypt, where oil spills are treated with zero transparency, Omani authorities have been very transparent in their dealings, although there is something suspect about a Cypriot-flagged vessel with an Iranian captain and nine Indian sailors.

Nonetheless, the Ministry of Environment has coordinated with the Regional Organisation for the Protection of Marine Environment (ROPME) to ensure that all hands are on deck to clean up this spill as efficiently as possible.

Bitumen occurs naturally or as a byproduct of petroleum distillation and is most frequently mixed with aggregates and used to pave roads. It is black, viscous, and no doubt toxic to fauna and flora.

Although oil spills occur all-too-regularly, Oman has one of the best protected marine environments in the Middle East with 1700km of coast line.

It is one of the best scuba diving destinations in the region and boasts prime nesting areas for Loggerhead and other turtles, among other marine species.

:: Gulf News

Image via Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Green Prophet Headlines – Oman’s Sustainable GU Tech Campus Scoops Coveted Construction Prize


Oman’s Sustainable GU Tech Campus Scoops Coveted Construction Prize

Posted: 10 May 2013 02:14 PM PDT

Oman is a small nation {with large territory} bordering Abu Dhabi on the Arabian peninsula; it has a long coastline and one of the largest populations of endangered Loggerhead turtles on earth.

It also subsidizes energy and water, essentially arresting any kind of sustainable development.
There’s no incentive to conserve something that comes for free.

But there’s a new architectural firm in town and they are laying the groundwork for a more responsible future and it starts now with the new GU Tech in Halban. The first German university on the peninsula, the new campus recently scooped Commercial Project of the Year at Oman’s 2013 Construction Week Awards.

Although Oman is not really equipped to incorporate renewable energy into the national grid and has focused very little attention on ecological urban planning, the US and German-educated team are deeply concerned about the nation’s future.
After all, one day fossil fuel resources will run out, and future generations will be left to deal with it.

It hasn’t always been this way. As Al Salmy explains to The Times of Oman, Omanis were well versed in sustainable design about 600-700 years ago – as evidenced in various villages carefully constructed to make optimum use of prevailing winds and water resources. {You know – we call this the course of having plenty of fossil fuels for this, in history, fleeting moment.}

 

GU Tech comprises the best of ancient Islamic design and contemporary materials to deliver an attractive, energy-efficient space with a decent amount of green space.

A state of the art air-conditioning system redirects cool air to an inner courtyard area, which is chilled a further five degrees by a curious system of sails – perhaps inspired by dhows, and grey water is purified and then used to irrigate the vegetation.

The facade resembles a mashrabiya screen which further mitigates solar gain, and energy efficient lighting conserves energy as well.

 

In all of their projects Al Salmy Hoehler & Partner LLC strives to make buildings “solar-ready” so that when Oman does implement a national grid that can handle renewable energy generation, these projects can simply plug and go without requiring a major retrofit.

“The nine jurors emphasized in particular the pioneering role of the project in the Sultanate in terms of overtopping the usual local standards with a modern, sustainable and state-of-the-art equipment and design,”  according to the German Emirati Joint Council for Industry & Commerce (AHK).

“They highlighted as well the exemplary implementation of a modern architecture in a design which conveys successfully between traditional Omani architecture and a modern, clear and functional architecture.”

A fine design indeed. More please.

Images via Hoehler & Partner Facebook Page

———————————————

Ernst Hoehler and Muhammad Al Salmy are the progressive brains behind Hoehler & Partner LLC in Oman’s capital Muscat. A team of committed architects, planners and engineers, the firm came to being in 2008 largely as a result of winning the award to design the GU Tech Campus.

 

Green Attitude

by Sarah MacDonald


Click on Image for Slideshow
Muhammad is the “Partner” in Hoehler & Partner LLC Architects and Engineers, a German-Omani joint venture, founded in 2008 and based in Muscat. Though the company is young, it is already gaining recognition as one of the most innovative architecture firms in Oman. At the 2013 Construction Week Awards Oman they received the award for “Best Commercial Project” for the new GUtech campus in Halban, while Richard Lisker, from the company and project, won the prize for “Best Project Manager.”Muhammad, the owner and chief architect received highest recommendation as Engineer of the Year and Construction Executive of the Year. What set the company apart was their emphasis on going above and beyond usual standards with modern, sustainable designs that bridge traditional Omani architecture with contemporary, functional, architecture, ideas that are very important to Muhammad. “It’s a sustainable building, and it’s the new architecture of Oman,” he says, sitting in his office in Shatti Qurum. Architecture runs in Muhammad’s blood. His father was also an architect, and since he was a child, Muhammad, now in his early 30s, has been fascinated by designing buildings. “I used to go to his office when I was a kid. I loved it. I was already designing before I went to school. When I was in high school I would help my uncles design their houses,” he recalls, a big smile brightening his face. His father actually discouraged him from pursuing a career in architecture, telling him it wasn’t appreciated enough, but Muhammad wasn’t deterred. Without his family’s knowledge, he majored in architecture at the University of Oklahoma in the USA. He loved his studies and continued on to get a Master’s degree.After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, a job opportunity took him to Germany, a country where sustainability and concern for the environment is widespread. While living in Germany from 2004 until 2008, he enrolled in Aachen University, from which he’s now finishing a PhD in Urban Conservation. It was also there that he and some German architects decided to collaborate and submit a design for the new GUtech campus. Part of their proposal included setting up a base in Muscat. When they were awarded the contract, Hoehler & Partner was born.

GUtech is much more than classrooms, Muhammad says. It’s a pioneering design for sustainable architecture. It has an air conditioning system that reuses the cool air, and redirects it to cool the main common area, which is an outdoor courtyard type of space within the main building. The doors and windows are airtight to hold the cool air. There are sensors to turn off lights when no one is there. It reuses its own dirty water to water the green spaces. It was built according to the direction that would maximise wind flow for natural cooling. The campus also reflects the environment around it.

“The whole concept has Omani elements. It has Omani architecture, like the open space in the middle, like you have in Nizwa Fort, for example. That centre has to have life. It’s a place where students can stay in the summer, and we cooled it by five degrees with the sails above to create shade and air flow with their direction, and with the water fountain below,” Muhammad explains.

Since the GUtech project, the company has been growing rapidly. Some of its currently projects include the Museum of History of Islamic Science, the Porsche showroom renovations, and the new University of Buraimi campus. They also have some small projects, including villas for environmentally-conscious Omanis, and they are doing project management for a project in Ghazni, Afghanistan, which is the Cultural City for Islam for 2013.

At the centre of all these projects and others, are the concepts that made GUtech a winner. They feature designs that save energy and are more eco-friendly than most. The Museum of History of Islamic Science, which is about to be built on the GUtech campus, includes designs that combine Islamic art with sustainable architecture. The museum will have a shell around it made of geometric Islamic patterns that will also keep the building cool, for example. The expansion to the Porsche showroom will have more insulation in its façade to make it more energy efficient. Some of their clients even want solar panels added to the buildings so they can use renewable energy. Oman may not use renewable energy yet or have a smart grid for it, but Muhammad says most of their clients don’t care.

They are willing to invest their own money to be sustainable, including solar panels or using material that helps preserve energy. In hopes that one day there will be renewable energy throughout the Sultanate, Muhammad and his team make some of their designs future-ready, so they can be hooked up to a national renewable energy grid at the flip of a switch. He says it would make sense for buildings with renewable energy systems, like solar energy, to be hooked up to the grid already, since they would contribute free energy back to it. Compared to German and other top international standards Hoehler & Partner’s designs aren’t up to par for sustainability, but here in Oman they are leading the way.  “We do what we can within the constraints,” Muhammad says. “We push people to go for LED lights which last longer and use less electricity, for example, or to go for double-pane windows which conserve energy. If you think about it in the long-term, the return on investment is less than 10 years.” It’s worth spending a bit more money for better-made products which last longer and save money in the long run, he insists. The government should provide incentives for people who go green. If they use solar-powered water heaters, or reduce their consumption, they should be rewarded, he suggests.

He realises that many people don’t worry about the environment because it doesn’t affect them financially. With huge electricity, water and gas subsidies, people aren’t aware of the true costs. He says he was shocked at the energy prices in Germany, and learned the importance of reducing his consumption to save money, as well as protect the environment. When the subsidies here can no longer be maintained, the prices will rise, so to keep the costs down, Muhammad says renewable energy is the way to go. He says people will go green if it saves them money. But in the meantime, he hopes the government will use its energy profits to invest in renewable energy projects. “Yes, now we have the oil, we have the gas, but what about the future generations? Why don’t we sell the oil and gas and finance the future?” he asks. One of the ways to change people’s mindsets is education and leading by example, Muhammad says.

He and his company are considering introducing a “Habitat for Humanity” type of home-building charity to Oman, in which low-income families, together with volunteers, work together to build homes for themselves. Hoehler & Partner would be able to teach the families and volunteers about sustainable building techniques, and the resulting homes would also be energy-saving, which would in turn save the families much needed money, he explains.

“We want to involve all the public and students. They’ll learn what can be done in their homes,” he says. “Companies have to play a better role in education. We want to do that.” Muhammad says people only need to look as far as at the ancient falaj systems of irrigation or some of the old towns to see that Oman has a history of environmentalism. Water in a falaj was carefully maintained, recycled and went from one farm to another. “People are wasting a huge amount of water in Oman. Why don’t you make a car wash out of recycled water? All of these things have to be implemented,” Muhammad explains.

Villages like Izki and Manah were sustainable because they were built with a lot of consideration to the wind direction, sources of water, and sunshine. The buildings were clustered together to save space, and the mosques and market squares were ideally located. Muhammad and his team at Hoehler & Partner look at these old Omani designs for inspiration and translate them into their modern, state-of-the-art buildings. “They had good urban planning 600, 700 years ago. Why can’t we now? We want to prove that we can go to a green building concept. It really works. It’s for the long-term,” Muhammad concludes.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 24th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We post the following because we were present in New York City at the first dinner Rabbi Marc Schneier hosted the Bahraini Ambassador to the UN. That was at the time an extension of Rabbi Schneier’s outreach to Muslims in the US – when he organized joint dinners between Jewish and Muslim communities in various places in the US. Eventually common interests will lead the way to the de-Jure acceptance of Israel as well.

 

New Header 

Gulf states ready for peace, says well-connected US rabbi

Marc Schneier, who has good ties with Bahraini royal family, urges Netanyahu to take a page out of the Sadat playbook and make the first public overture

Rabbi Marc Schneier with King Hamad at the Bahraini Crown Palace, December 2011. (photo Walter Ruby/Foundation for Et hnic Understanding)

By Raphael Ahren

April 23, 2013

Israel should publicly commend Bahrain for labeling Hezbollah a terrorist organization and it should try to build strategic alliances with all Gulf states based on a common opposition to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a prominent American rabbi with ties to the Bahraini royal family said.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, an American congregational leader who recently met with the Bahraini king and the crown prince, urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit an Arab country and seize Israel and Sunni Muslims’ common distrust of Tehran as a path toward warming relations with parts of the Arab world.

However, an expert on the politics of the gulf states said that while Bahrain’s move to blacklist Hezbollah did present “an opening,” a real improvement of bilateral ties remains elusive and would likely stay under the radar.

“We’re so myopic, we’re so focused on Europe, and here you have a very significant development that took place in Bahrain,” Schneier told The Times of Israel, referring to the tiny Gulf state’s recent decision to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization. “I am calling for a conversation to take place, a conversation that needs to begin within Israel about looking east, not only looking west.”

Schneier bemoaned the fact that the Bahraini parliament’s March 26 decision to outlaw the Lebanese-Shiite group received little press coverage in Israel, and that Jerusalem didn’t comment at all.

“No one’s even discussing this,” he lamented. “After Bahrain passed this legislation, I was simply amazed how little attention this was given in Israel. It is a landmark event, particularly because it’s an Arab country that has called on other Arab countries to follow suit.”

“Israel needs to remember it lives in the Middle East and not in the Middle West,” Schneier added. “There is an opportunity to begin to create some kind of strategic alliance with the gulf states, which have been very expressive about their concerns about Iran and its satellite organizations like Hezbollah.”

The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem declined to comment on Schneier’s remarks, but a diplomatic official told The Times of Israel that “If the Bahrainis had wanted Israel to say something, they could have sent us a message through diplomatic channels. Since they didn’t, we didn’t.”

The Bahraini Foreign Ministry did not respond to a Times of Israel query on this matter.

Schneier, perhaps best known for being the founder of The Hampton Synagogue, which is frequented by affluent and prominent US Jews, is the co-founder and president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

In the framework of his interfaith work, he developed a relationship with Bahrain’s ambassador to the US, Houda Nonoo, the first Jew to represent an Arab country in Washington. In December 2011, Schneier was received by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the royal palace in Manama. The king told him that Bahrain and Israel have a common enemy in Iran. He has been in “close contact with the royal family ever since,” Schneier said.

Rabbi Marc Schneier with Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who is also deputy supreme commander and first deputy prime minister (photo credit: courtesy Foundation for Ethnic Understanding)

In March, Schneier returned to Manama to meet with the heir apparent, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, who is also the deputy supreme commander of the Bahraini army and first deputy prime minister. He “validated and reconfirmed” his father’s statements about Israel and Iran, Schneier said.

Israel and Bahrain do not maintain diplomatic relations, but in 2005 King Hamad told the US ambassador that his state has contacts with Israel “at the intelligence/security level (i.e., with Mossad),” according to a secret US diplomatic cable published two years ago by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. He also indicated willingness “to move forward in other areas, although it will be difficult for Bahrain to be the first.” The development of “trade contacts,” though, would have to wait for the implementation of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the king told the ambassador.

Other WikiLeaks documents show that senior officials from both countries have spoken in recent years, such as a 2007 meeting between then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni and Bahraini foreign minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa in New York. The Bahraini foreign minister in 2009 also signaled that he was willing to meet Netanyahu to try to advance the peace process, but ultimately decided not to go ahead with the plan.

Frederic Wehrey, a senior associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, agreed that the gulf states and Israel have a common foe in Iran. “The designation of Hezbollah is certainly an opening; it shows that they’re concerned about this non-state actor that Israel obviously regards as a dire threat as well,” he said.

 

However, a real rapprochement between Manama and Jerusalem remains unlikely, asserted Wehrey, who focuses on political reform and security issues in the Arab Gulf states and US policy in the Middle East. “On a strategic level, yes, there is a shared threat, but that doesn’t negate the very issue they’re facing from domestic parties and their populations. Many Bahrainis and citizens of other gulf states feel strongly about the Palestinian cause and the governments will therefore have to tread very carefully in how it approaches relations to Israel,” he said. “If there are ties, they would be under the table and hidden from the public view.”

According to the website of the kingdom’s foreign ministry, Bahrain supports the creation of a Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines and the “right of return of Palestinian refugees.” Manama also holds Jerusalem responsible “for the unfortunate, deteriorating, and painful situation in the Palestinian lands as a result of Israel’s aggressive practices including: assassinations; settlement-building; and the erection of the Separation Wall; as well as attacking holy places, and imposing economic blockades,” the site states.

It is not even clear why Israel would want to develop overt ties with Bahrain, added Wehrey, noting that the autocratic regime is currently facing enormous criticism for its poor human rights record and the way it suppresses public unrest. A strong affiliation with such a state – which is not a regional powerhouse like, for instance, Saudi Arabia – “might actually damage Israel’s position,” he said.

But Schneier, speaking to The Times of Israel from his home in New York, believes that if Jerusalem made a genuine effort to negotiate a peace treaty with the Palestinians, then Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Oman would be willing to recognize Israel and normalize relations. “All gulf states are ready,” he said. “We now have the opportunity, or the tension, to move that thing along because of Iran.”

The rabbi called on Netanyahu to make the first step by approaching the Arab states. “I believe the prime minister should take a page out of Sadat’s playbook and either show up at one of the capitals of the gulf states or appear before the Arab League,” he said, referring to Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s 1977 visit to Israel, which laid the foundation for a peace agreement between the two countries signed two years later.

 

“There is a precedent for it,” Schneier said. “As long as Israel continues to do its share at trying to arrive at a resolution with the Palestinian people, then I believe there is an opportunity here.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 17th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Uri Avnery

November 17, 2012

Another Superfluous War

HOW DID it start? Stupid question.

Conflagrations along the Gaza Strip don’t start. They are just a continuous chain of events, each claimed to be a [or “in”] “retaliation” for the previous one. Action is followed by reaction, which is followed by retaliation, which is followed by …

This particular event “started” with the firing from Gaza of an anti-tank weapon at a partially armored jeep on the Israeli side of the border fence. It was described as retaliation for the killing of a boy in an air attack some days earlier. But probably the timing of the action was accidental – the opportunity just presented itself.

The success gave rise to demonstrations of joy and pride in Gaza. Again Palestinians had shown their ability to strike at the hated enemy.

HOWEVER, THE Palestinians had in fact walked into a trap prepared with great care. Whether the order was given by Hamas or one of the smaller more extreme organizations – it was not a clever thing to do.

Shooting across the fence at an army vehicle was crossing a red line. (The Middle East is full of red lines.) A major Israeli reaction was sure to ensue.

It was rather routine. Israeli tanks fired cannon shells into the Gaza Strip. Hamas launched rockets at Israeli towns and villages. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis rushed to their shelters. Schools closed.

As usual, Egyptian and other mediators went into action. Behind the scenes, a new truce was arranged. It seemed to be over. Just another round.

The Israeli side did everything to get back to normal. Or so it seemed. The Prime Minister and the Defense Minister went out of their way (to the Syrian border) to show that Gaza was off their minds.

In Gaza, everybody relaxed. They left their shelters. Their supreme military commander, Ahmad Ja’abari, climbed into his car and drove along the main street.

And then the trap closed. The car bearing the commander was blown up by a missile from the air.

SUCH AN assassination is not carried out on the spur of the moment. It is the culmination of many months of preparation, gathering of information, waiting for the right moment, when it could be executed without killing many bystanders and causing an international scandal.

Actually, it was due to take place a day earlier, but postponed because of the bad weather.

Ja’abari was the man behind all the military activities of the Hamas government in Gaza, including the capture of Gilad Shalit and the successful five-year long hiding of his whereabouts. He was photographed at the release of Shalit to the Egyptians.

So this time it was the Israelis who were jubilant. Much like the Americans after the Osama bin-Laden assassination.

———–

THE KILLING of Ja’abari was the sign for starting the planned operation.

The Gaza Strip is full of missiles. Some of them are able to reach Tel Aviv, some 40 km away. The Israeli military has long planned a major operation to destroy as many of them as possible from the air. Intelligence has patiently gathered information about their location. This is the purpose of the “Pillar of Cloud” operation. (“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way – Exodus 13:21).

While I am writing this, I don’t know yet how the whole thing will end. But some conclusions can already be drawn.

FIRST OF All, this is not Cast Lead II. Far from it.

The Israeli army is rather good at discreetly drawing lessons from its failures. Cast Lead was celebrated as a great success, but in reality it was a disaster.

Sending troops into a densely populated area is bound to cause heavy civilian casualties. War crimes are almost inevitable. World reaction was catastrophic. The political damage immense. The Chief of Staff at the time, Gabi Ashkenazi, was widely acclaimed, but in reality he was a rather primitive military type. His present successor is of a different caliber.

Also, grandiose statements about destroying Hamas and turning the Strip over to the Ramallah leadership have been avoided this time.

The Israeli aim, it was stated, is to cause maximum damage to Hamas with minimum civilian victims. It was hoped that this could be achieved almost entirely by the use of air power. In the first phase of the operation, this seems to have succeeded. The question is whether this can be kept up as the war goes on.

HOW WILL it end? It would be foolhardy to guess. Wars have their own logic. Stuff happens, as the man said.

Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, the two men in overall command, hope the war will wind down once the main aims are achieved. So there will be no reason to employ the army on the ground, enter the Gaza Strip, kill people, lose soldiers.

Deterrence will be restored. Another truce will come into force. The Israeli population surrounding the Strip will be able to sleep soundly at night for several months. Hamas will be cut down to size.

But will this whole exercise change the basic situation? Not likely.

Ja’abari will be replaced. Israel has assassinated dozens of Arab political and military leaders. Indeed, it is the world champion of such assassinations, politely referred to as “targeted preventions” or “eliminations”. If this were an Olympic sport, the Ministry of Defense, the Mossad and the Shin Bet would be festooned with gold medals.

Sometimes one gets the impression that the assassinations are an aim by [in] themselves, and the other operations just incidental. An artist is proud of his art.

What have the results been? Overall – nothing positive. Israel killed Hizbollah leader Abbas al-Moussawi, and got the vastly more intelligent Hassan Nasrallah instead. They killed Hamas founder Sheik Ahmad Yassin, and he was replaced by abler men. Ja’abari’s successor may be less or more able. It will make no great difference.

Will it stop the steady advance of Hamas? I doubt it. Perhaps the opposite will happen. Hamas has already achieved a significant breakthrough, when the Emir of Qatar (owner of Aljazeera) paid Gaza a state visit. He was the first head of state to do so. Others are bound to follow. Just now, in the middle of the operation, the Egyptian prime minister arrived in Gaza.

Operation “Pillar of Cloud” compels all Arab countries to rally around Hamas, or at least pretend to. It discredits the claim of the more extreme organizations in Gaza that Hamas has gone soft and lazy, enjoying the fruits of government. In the battle for Palestinian opinion, Hamas has gained another victory over Mahmoud Abbas, whose security cooperation with Israel will look even more despicable.

All in all, nothing basic will change. Just another superfluous war.

IT IS, of course, a highly political event.

Like Cast Lead, it takes place on the eve of Israeli elections. (So, by the way, did the Yom Kippur war, but that was decided by the other side.)

One of the more miserable sights of the last few days has been the TV appearances of Shelly Yachimovich and Ya’ir Lapid. The two shining new stars in Israel’s political firmament looked like petty politicians, parroting Netanyahu’s propaganda, approving everything done.

Both had hitched their wagons to the social protest, expecting that social issues would displace subjects like war, occupation and settlements from the agenda. When the public is occupied with the price of cottage cheese, who cares about national policy?

I said at the time that one whiff of military action would blow away all economic and social issues as frivolous and irrelevant. This has happened now.

Netanyahu and Barak appear many times a day on the screen. They look responsible, sober, determined, experienced. Real he-men, commanding troops, shaping events, saving the nation, routing the enemies of Israel and the entire Jewish people. As Lapid volunteered on live television: “Hamas is an anti-Semitic terrorist organization and must be crushed.”

Netanyahu is doing it. Adieu, Lapid. Adieu Shelly. Adieu Olmert. Adieu Tzipi. Was nice seeing you.

WAS THERE an alternative? Obviously, the situation along the Gaza Strip had become intolerable. One cannot send an entire population to the shelters every two or three weeks. Except hitting Hamas on the head, what can you do?

A lot.

First of all, you can abstain from “reacting”. Just cut the chain.

Then, you can talk with Hamas as the de facto government of Gaza. You did, actually, when negotiating the release of Shalit. So why not look for a permanent modus vivendi, with the involvement of Egypt?

A hudna can be achieved. In Arab culture, a hudna is a binding truce, sanctified by Allah, which can go on for many years. A hudna cannot be violated. Even the Crusaders concluded hudnas with their Muslim enemies.

The day after the assassination, Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who had been involved in mediating Shalit’s release, disclosed that he had been in contact with Ja’abari up to the last moment. Ja’abari had been interested in a long-term cease-fire. The Israeli authorities had been informed.

But the real remedy is peace. Peace with the Palestinian people. Hamas has already solemnly declared that it would respect a peace agreement concluded by the PLO – i.e. Mahmoud Abbas – that would establish a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, provided this agreement were confirmed in a Palestinian referendum.

Without it, the bloodletting will just go on, round after round. Forever.

Peace is the answer. But when visibility is obscured by pillars of cloud, who can see that?

==========================================

What’s New in the Gaza-Israel Battle.

by Rami G. Khouri Released: 17 Nov 2012

BEIRUT — The latest flare-up of fighting on the Gaza-Israel front has generated the usual round of statements and bravado on both sides, but among the predictability of developments are also some important new elements. Three of these are in the Arab world, which is not surprising, given the historic changes taking place across the region. The responses from Israelis and the United States government, on the other hand, appear depressingly consistent with Zionism’s history of reliance on military force as the main instrument of dealing with Palestinians and Arabs, and Washington’s structurally pro-Israel position in the conflict.

The first and most important thing to say about the rekindled killing across the Israel-Gaza border is its sheer futility and waste. Neither side has the ability to completely wipe out the other, for that is what would be required to end this conflict for good. That will not happen, as both sides have proven over the past 35 years or so, since Hamas’ emergence in Palestine. Yet they are willing and able to keep fighting, despite the tremendous cost to their people.

More killing and destruction will not resolve this conflict, but a lack of a fair and negotiated resolution also means that more killing and destruction are inevitable. We should note three important new dimensions of the conflict on the Arab side, about the constantly improving technical capabilities of Palestinian resistance groups, the emergence of more radical Islamist groups over time in Gaza and around the region, and the impact of public opinion and the new, legitimate, governments in power in some Arab states. All three together suggest that a shift in the strategic balance of power may be underway in the Middle East, with huge implications.

The more advanced rockets in the hands of Palestinian resistance forces in Gaza that reached Tel Aviv Thursday generate a significant new dimension of psychological fear in Israel that mirrors the fear and tension that Israel’s aerial attacks have long inflicted on Palestinians and Lebanese. The ability of Palestinians today to fire rockets deeper into Israel, and, presumably, with more accuracy in due course, is just one indicator of the fact that time is not on Israel’s side. As long as the crime of dispossession and refugeehood that was committed against the Palestinian people in 1947-48 is not redressed through a peaceful and just negotiation that satisfies the legitimate rights of both sides, we will continue to see enhancements in both the determination and the capabilities of Palestinian fighters — as has been the case since the 1930s, in fact. Only stupid or ideologically maniacal Zionists fail to come to terms with this fact.

It is important to note the remarks by Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh Thursday night that Gazans and Palestinians everywhere will keep struggling for their national rights, with the key issue for them being the Palestinian right of return. His comments, and the resurgence of fighting, only remind everyone that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about what happened in 1947-48, not only what happened in 1967. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius noted correctly this week that, “It would be a catastrophe if there is an escalation in the region. Israel has the right to security but it won’t achieve it through violence. The Palestinians also have the right to a state.”

The second major new element in this round of fighting is the steady expansion of militant Islamists in Gaza, such as Islamic Jihad and other small groups, who make Hamas look like a relative softie. The rockets being fired into Israel emanate from several Salafist Islamist groups that have sprung up in Gaza alongside Hamas in the last decade. This mirrors trends across the Arab world, where Salafists are serving in newly elected and legitimate parliaments. This also should serve as a wake-up call to the reality that has reigned since the 1960s: If Israel does not come to terms with the political groups that now hold power in Palestine and Arab states, it will surely have to deal with more militant ones in the future.

The third new element is the changed environment in Arab public opinion around the region, where young new governments more accurately reflect the sentiments of their citizens vis-à-vis the Palestine issue. We should keep our eyes on how Tunisians and Egyptians, in particular, react to the Gaza situation. They will not go to war with Israel, but they are likely to find new and meaningful ways to express real support for Palestinians, which will increase the political pressure on Israel.

Where this combination of new elements leads us over time is not yet clear. I hope it eventually pushes all sides to acknowledge that only a fair, negotiated, resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian and wider Arab-Israeli conflicts can serve the legitimate rights of all concerned, in a way that rockets in Gaza and Tel Aviv never will.

Rami G. Khouri is Editor-at-large of The Daily Star, and Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, in Beirut, Lebanon. You can follow him @ramikhouri.

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WE SAY THAT THE UN IS NOT THE BODY THAT HAS THE CAPABILITY TO DEAL WITH THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN ISSUE AND WE THINK THAT NO ADDED HARM WILL BE DONE BY ALLOWING THE ACCEPTANCE OF ONE OR TWO PALESTINES INTO THIS BODY – IT WAS MADE IRRELEVANT ANYWAY – FOR ALL TO SEE WHEN THOSE 120 STATES TROOPED TO TEHRAN TO ANOINT LITTLE AHMEDI-NEJAD TO BE THE HEAD OF THAT NEBULOUS UN GROUPING OF “NON-ALIGNED STATES.” YOU ASK JUSTLY – ALIGNED AGAINST WHOM? IS IT THE HATRED OF ISRAEL OR OF THE US THAT RULES THIS BODY, SOME OF WHOM ARE CLEARLY SYCOPHANTS THAT LIVED FROM US HANDOUTS?

THAT IS JUST THE START – THE SO CALLED GROUP OF 77 THAT CLAIMS 154 MEMBERS IS PUSHED AROUND BY THOSE 120 – UNDER THE 77 NAME – INCLUDING ALSO THE ECONOMICALLY SUCCESSFUL UPSTARTS.

FURTHER – IT IS THE WHOLE UN BODY THAT RELEGATED ISRAEL TO THAT OTHER INCOMPREHENSIBLE OLD NEW-WORLD OF WEOAG, AND THAT KEEPS ON ITS ROSTER THE GHOST OF THE DEFUNCT EASTERN BLOC STATES OF THE SOVIET ERA AND THAT KEPT THE ISRAELI PROBLEM ALIVE BY NOT ALLOWING FOR NORMAL ISRAEL REGIONAL MEMBERSHIP, AND THAT KEPT THE POISON OF ANTI-SEMITISM ALIVE.

WITH ISLAMISTS, AND GROWINGLY SALAFIST-ISLAMISTS, PUSHING THE WORLD BACK TO THE  SENSITIVITIES OF THE MEDITERRANEAN BASIN OF THE DARKEST AGES, IT SEEMS THAT THE CHANCE OF REACHING AN ACCEPTABLE REGIONAL SOLUTION FOR THE ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN DILEMMA WAS ALL THE TIME IN THE HANDS OF THE ARAB MONARCHIES. HISTORICALLY, IT WAS THEIR OPPOSITION TO THE PARTITION OF THE BRITISH MANDATE OVER THE OLD PALESTINE THAT CAUSED THE 1947-48 WAR AND THE LACK OF SOLUTION OF THE PALESTINE REFUGEE RESULTING PROBLEM, AND NON-RECOGNITION OF THE RESULTING POPULATION EXCHANGE THAT EVOLVED. NOW ALSO JORDAN IS IN DANGER OF INTERNAL UPHEAVAL. IF THE PALESTINIANS IN JORDAN, PUSHED BY ISLAMIST LEADERS AND PLAIN ECONOMIC REASONS, TAKE OVER THAT COUNTRY AS WELL, WILL SAUDI ARABIA, BAHRAIN, THE EMIRATES, QATAR, KUWAIT, …  BE FAR BEHIND IN THE LIST OF SUCH OVERTURNS? WHY DO THESE COUNTRIES NOT PUSH NOW FOR A JUST SOLUTION THAT DISMEMBERS THE REFUGEE CAMPS, GIVE FULL RECOGNITION TO ISRAEL, ESTABLISH FULL RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL, AND AS A FOLLOW UP LEAD TO NEGOTIATIONS FOR INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED BORDERS BETWEEN ISRAEL AND ITS NEIGHBORING PALESTINE – A CORRECTED VERSION, BENT TO REALITIES ON THE GROUND, OF THAT WHAT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED IN 1947 – SOLVING THE PALESTINIANS’ PROBLEM THAT THEIR FATHERS CREATED BY ARAB REFUSAL TO RECOGNIZE THE RIGHT OF THE HISTORIC ISRAELIS TO RE-ESTABLISH A HOMELAND? ZIONISM IS NOT COLONIALISM, BUT A CLEAR CASE OF A PEOPLE THAT REESTABLISHED THEIR HISTORIC LAND LOST BY OCCUPATION AND THE SOLOMONIC SOLUTION SUGGESTED BY THE POST-WORLD WAR II UNITED NATIONS WAS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FOUNDING OF THE  UN.

================================

Also

Israel’s Shortsighted Assassination.

By GERSHON BASKIN for The New York Times as an OP-ED Contribution.
Published: November 16, 2012

JERUSALEM

AHMED AL-JABARI — the strongman of Hamas, the head of its military wing, the man responsible for the abduction of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit — was assassinated on Wednesday by Israeli missiles.

Why? Israel’s government has declared that the aim of the current strikes against Gaza is to rebuild deterrence so that no rockets will be fired on Israel. Israel’s targeted killings of Hamas leaders in the past sent the Hamas leadership underground and prevented rocket attacks on Israel temporarily. According to Israeli leaders, deterrence will be achieved once again by targeting and killing military and political leaders in Gaza and hitting hard at Hamas’s military infrastructure. But this policy has never been effective in the long term, even when the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, was killed by Israel. Hamas didn’t lay down its guns then, and it won’t stop firing rockets at Israel now without a cease-fire agreement.

When we were negotiating with Hamas to release Mr. Shalit, members of the Israeli team believed that Mr. Jabari wouldn’t make a deal because holding Mr. Shalit was a kind of “life insurance policy.” As long as Mr. Jabari held Mr. Shalit, Israelis believed, the Hamas leader knew he was safe. The Israeli government had a freer hand to kill Mr. Jabari after Mr. Shalit was released in October 2011. His insurance policy was linked to their assessment of the value of keeping him alive. This week, that policy expired.

I believe that Israel made a grave and irresponsible strategic error by deciding to kill Mr. Jabari. No, Mr. Jabari was not a man of peace; he didn’t believe in peace with Israel and refused to have any direct contact with Israeli leaders and even nonofficials like me. My indirect dealings with Mr. Jabari were handled through my Hamas counterpart, Ghazi Hamad, the deputy foreign minister of Hamas, who had received Mr. Jabari’s authorization to deal directly with me. Since Mr. Jabari took over the military wing of Hamas, the only Israeli who spoke with him directly was Mr. Shalit, who was escorted out of Gaza by Mr. Jabari himself.

(It is important to recall that Mr. Jabari not only abducted Mr. Shalit, but he also kept him alive and ensured that he was cared for during his captivity.)

Passing messages between the two sides, I was able to learn firsthand that Mr. Jabari wasn’t just interested in a long-term cease-fire; he was also the person responsible for enforcing previous cease-fire understandings brokered by the Egyptian intelligence agency. Mr. Jabari enforced those cease-fires only after confirming that Israel was prepared to stop its attacks on Gaza. On the morning that he was killed, Mr. Jabari received a draft proposal for an extended cease-fire with Israel, including mechanisms that would verify intentions and ensure compliance. This draft was agreed upon by me and Hamas’s deputy foreign minister, Mr. Hamad, when we met last week in Egypt.

The goal was to move beyond the patterns of the past. For years, it has been the same story: Israeli intelligence discovers information about an impending terrorist attack from Gaza. The Israeli Army takes pre-emptive action with an airstrike against the suspected terror cells, which are often made up of fighters from groups like Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees or Salafi groups not under Hamas’s control but functioning within its territory. These cells launch rockets into Israeli towns near Gaza, and they often miss their targets. The Israeli Air Force responds swiftly. The typical result is between 10 and 25 casualties in Gaza, zero casualties in Israel and huge amounts of property damage on both sides.

Other key Hamas leaders and members of the Shura Council, its senior decision-making body, supported a new cease-fire effort because they, like Mr. Jabari, understood the futility of successive rocket attacks against Israel that left no real damage on Israel and dozens of casualties in Gaza. Mr. Jabari was not prepared to give up the strategy of “resistance,” meaning fighting Israel, but he saw the need for a new strategy and was prepared to agree to a long-term cease-fire.

This war is being presented in Israel, once again, as a war of “no choice.” The people of Israel are rallying around the flag as would be expected anywhere in the world. The United States government has voiced its support of the Israeli operation by stating, “Israel has the full right to defend itself and protect its citizens.” It certainly does, but we must ask whether there is another way to achieve the same goal without the use of force.

Israel has used targeted killings, ground invasions, drones, F-16s, economic siege and political boycott. The only thing it has not tried and tested is reaching an agreement (through third parties) for a long-term mutual cease-fire.

No government can tolerate having its civilian population attacked by rockets from a neighboring territory. And the firing of thousands of rockets from Gaza into Israel must end. There was a chance for a mutually agreed cease-fire. The difference between the proposal I drafted in cooperation with my Hamas counterpart and past proposals was that it included both a mechanism for dealing with impending terror threats and a clear definition of breaches. This draft was to be translated and shared with both Mr. Jabari and Israeli security officials, who were aware of our mediation efforts.

In the draft, which I understand Mr. Jabari saw hours before he was killed, it was proposed that Israeli intelligence information transmitted through the Egyptians would be delivered to Mr. Jabari so that he could take action aimed at preventing an attack against Israel. Mr. Jabari and his forces would have had an opportunity to prove that they were serious when they told Egyptian intelligence officials that they were not interested in escalation. If Mr. Jabari had agreed to the draft, then we could have prevented this new round of violence; if he had refused, then Israel would have likely attacked in much the same way as it is now.

The proposal was at least worth testing. Moreover, it included the understanding that if Israel were to take out a real ticking bomb — people imminently preparing to launch a rocket — such a strike would not be considered a breach of the cease-fire and would not lead to escalation.

Instead, Mr. Jabari is dead — and with him died the possibility of a long-term cease-fire. Israel may have also compromised the ability of Egyptian intelligence officials to mediate a short-term cease-fire and placed Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt at risk.

This was not inevitable, and cooler heads could have prevailed. Mr. Jabari’s assassination removes one of the more practical actors on the Hamas side.

Who will replace him? I am not convinced that Israel’s political and military leaders have adequately answered that question.


Gershon Baskin
is a co-chairman of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Shalit.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 28th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


UAE eyes June opening for pipeline bypassing Hormuz.

By Acil Tabbara (AFP) – May 27, 2012

FUJAIRAH, United Arab Emirates — A pipeline being built by the United Arab Emirates to pump most of its oil exports from east coast terminals bypassing the Iran-threatened Strait of Hormuz, will be operational in June, the ruler of Fujairah told AFP in an interview.

“The pipeline will be operational in June,” said Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sharqi, whose east-coast emirate is one of seven that make up the UAE.

Construction of the 360-kilometre (225 miles) pipeline began in 2008.

The pipeline will have an initial capacity of 1.5 million barrels per day rising to 1.8 million bpd, which represents the bulk of the UAE’s current production of around 2.5 million bpd, Sheikh Hamad said.

The Habshan-Fujairah pipeline will carry oil from fields in Abu Dhabi on the Gulf to Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman.

Fears of a closure of the Strait of Hormuz intensified in recent months after Iran threatened to close the strategic outlet to the Gulf if Western governments kept up their efforts to choke off its oil exports in a bid to rein in its controversial nuclear programme.

In addition to the exports of the UAE and Iran itself, all the oil exports of Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar are shipped through the waterway. Iraq also pumps the bulk of its exports through ports on the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, pumps most of its crude from its terminals on the Gulf but it can divert large supplies to terminals on the Red Sea.

Sheikh Hamad, however, played down the possibility of a closure of Hormuz.

“I do not believe there will be a war,” he said, arguing that the tension with neighbouring Iran is just a “summer cloud that will clear.”

Iran held talks on Wednesday and Thursday in Baghdad with six world powers that nearly collapsed when they demanded Tehran give up enriching uranium to the 20 percent level seen as a key step towards weapons-grade.

In exchange, Iran would get some inducements such as aircraft parts for its dilapidated commercial fleet and technical assistance in nuclear energy.

Iran, which is suffering under Western sanctions, said the inducements were far too little and countered with a demand that the P5+1 declare that it has a right to enrich uranium.

The two sides agreed to meet again in Moscow on June 18-19.

Sheikh Hamad is hopeful that the new pipeline will “increase the geopolitical importance of Fujairah,” which “lies on a meeting point of east and west maritime routes.”

His small emirate, which has a population of just 170,000 people, wants to take advantage of its location to become an export hub for oil and gas.

Fujairah is already the world’s third largest centre for ship bunkering after Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, and Singapore, and wants to rise up on the list.

At the port that was opened in 1982, expansion work is in full swing, including the construction of two new platforms to receive large tankers, as well as large reservoirs, bringing the storage capacity to around 11 million cubic metres.

The ruler is expecting more investments in the petroleum sector after the emirate established last year a zone for oil industries.

Last year also, Fujairah opened a new power plant fed by a pipeline carrying gas from Qatar through Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

A terminal to export liquefied natural gas is planned in Fujairah by the Abu Dhabi investment arm, Mubadala, and International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC), which also belongs to Abu Dhabi, the richest emirate of the UAE.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 7th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Obama’s Americans call on Ahmedinejad’s bluff  by saving his Iranian fishermen from the hold of Somali pirates – right there on Iran’s frontage or doorstep.

ABOARD THE FISHING VESSEL AL MULAHI, in the Gulf of Oman — Senior Iranian military officials this week bluntly warned an American aircraft carrier that it would confront the “full force” of the Iranian military if it tried to re-enter the Persian Gulf.

Are the American ships there to keep the oil-transport lanes open? Then if there will be no exports from Iran, there will be a diminished need for US chaperons against Somali pirates!   The US will have to guard only the Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Saudi, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, oil transports!

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The New York Times
January 7, 2012
The New York Times

Pirates were operating where vital shipping routes  cross.

Tyler Hicks/The New York Times - American sailors with captured Somali pirates near the mouth of the Gulf of Oman, after the pirates’ Iranian hostages were freed.

“It is like you were sent by God,” said Mr. Fazel Ur Rehman, On Friday,  a 28-year-old Iranian fisherman, with a warm greeting for the carrier task force near the enytance to the Iranian/Arab Gulf . in the Gulf of Oman, huddled under a blanket in the AL MULAHI vessel’s stern:  “Every night we prayed for God to rescue us. And now you are here.”

In a naval action that mixed diplomacy, drama and Middle Eastern politics, the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis broke up a high-seas pirate attack on a cargo ship in the Gulf of Oman, then sailors from an American destroyer boarded the pirates’ mother ship and freed 13 Iranian hostages who had been held captive there for more than a month.

The cocky senior Iranian military officials this week had warned bluntly an American aircraft carrier that it would confront the “full force” of the Iranian military if it tried to re-enter the Persian Gulf – and see now – Ahmedinejad had to rely on the US Navy to get his fishermen back safe from Somali pirates he seemingly loves so much.

The rapidly unfolding events began Thursday morning when the pirates attacked a Bahamian-flagged ship, the motor vessel Sunshine, unaware that the Stennis was steaming less than eight miles away.

It ended Friday with the tables fully turned. The captured Somali pirates, 15 in all, were brought aboard the U.S.S. Kidd, an American destroyer traveling with the Stennis. They were then shuttled by helicopter to the aircraft carrier and locked up in its brig.

This fishing vessel and its crew, provided fuel and food by the Navy, then set sail for its home port of Chah Bahar, Iran.

The rescue, 210 miles off the coast of Iran, occurred against a tense political backdrop. On Tuesday the Iranian defense minister and a brigadier general threatened the Stennis with attack if it sought to return to the Persian Gulf, which it had left roughly a week before. The warning set up fears of a confrontation over the vital oil shipping lanes of the Strait of Hormuz.

None of that tension was evident at sea. The Sunshine, a 583-foot cargo ship carrying bulk cargo from Calais, France, to Bandar Abbas, Iran, continued its journey.
The freed hostages, Iranian citizens, greeted the American sailors with wide-eyed relief.

Mahmed Younes, 28, the fishing vessel’s captain, said he and his crew had been captured roughly 45 days ago by pirates in a skiff, who boarded their 82-foot dhow and forced it to an anchorage in the northern Somali port of Xaafuun. There, the pirates took on provisions and more gunmen.

In late December the pirates, using their hostages to run the dhow, set back out to sea, hunting for a tanker or large cargo ship to capture and hold for ransom.

For several days, Al Mulahi roamed the Gulf of Oman, unmolested under its Iranian flag, the pirates and former hostages said. They saw several ships. But the pirates’ leader, Bashir Bhotan, 32, did not think any of them would command a high ransom. They let them pass.

“The pirates told us, ‘If you get us a good ship, we will let you go free,’ ” Captain Younes said. “We told them, ‘How can we get you a ship? We are fishermen, not hunters.’ ”

On Thursday morning, six of the pirates set out in a fiberglass skiff and found their quarry — the Sunshine, 100 miles from the shore of Oman. One of the pirates, Mohammed Mahmoud, 33, later said this was the type of vessel they would hope might fetch a ransom of several million dollars.

Brandishing a rocket-propelled grenade and several Kalashnikov rifles, they rushed alongside, threw a grappling hook and tried to lash a ladder to the Sunshine’s side. They hoped to scale the gunwales and seize the bridge.

Their plans unraveled immediately. As the Sunshine radioed for help, and tried to deter the boarding by spraying the pirates with fire hoses, the pirates were unable to board.

“Our ladder broke,” Mr. Mahmoud said.

Then an American helicopter appeared.

Neither the pirates nor the crew of the Sunshine had known it, but three Navy ships — the Stennis; the U.S.N.S. Rainier, a supply ship; and the U.S.S. Mobile Bay, a guided-missile cruiser — were steaming in formation a few miles away. The carrier was taking on provisions from the Rainier and had several helicopters in the air when the Sunshine radioed its distress call.

Aboard the carrier, Rear Adm. Craig S. Faller, who commands the carrier strike group, looked at the chart and radar images of the Sunshine’s location with something like disbelief. The Sunshine and the Stennis were only a few miles apart. “These might be the dumbest pirates ever,” he said.

=======================================================================

HONG KONG — Under growing pressure from the United States, some of Asia’s largest economies are reluctantly looking for options to reduce the amount of oil they buy from Iran, a move that would further tighten the economic vise on an increasingly defiant nation that announced plans for a new round of naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz.
 www.nytimes.com/2012/01/07/world/…

Pressed by U.S., Asian Countries Look for Ways to Reduce Purchases of Iranian Oil

By  and 
Published: January 6, 2012

The decision by South Korea and Japan to try to accommodate Washington’s demands follows reports that China has already reduced its purchase of Iranian crude in the past month in a pricing dispute with Tehran. Whatever the motives, the combined loss of sales threatens an economy already reeling, where the currency has plummeted in value, inflation has surged and the general public has expressed growing anxiety about the prospect of war.

China, Japan, India and South Korea together import more than 60 percent of Iranian oil exports, and they all depend on Iran and other Persian Gulf producers for the preponderance of their oil and natural gas needs. As tensions in the gulf have escalated and alarmed Asian governments and businesses, companies and traders from those countries have been putting out feelers to places like Russia, Vietnam, West Africa, Iraq and especially Saudi Arabia to export more oil to them, according to oil experts.

For Tehran, which relies heavily on oil revenues to prop up an economy battered by years of sanctions, the potential cutbacks by its Asian customers follow a decision by theEuropean Union to move toward a ban on the import of Iranian oil. Taken together, the Western efforts represent the most serious economic pressure yet on Iran after years of conflict over a nuclear program that the West charges is aimed at building weapons.

But if the goal is to force Iran to relent, the campaign has so far had an opposite effect: Iranian officials have equated targeting their oil market with economic war andthreatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, where about one-fifth of the world’s oil passes to get to market.

The Iranian military, fresh off 10 days of naval exercises near the strait that ended this week, vowed to hold a new round of war games soon. The defense minister, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Vahidi, in comments reported by the semiofficial Fars News Agency Thursday, said the military’s exercises would be “its greatest naval war games” and would occur “in the same region in the near future.”

The United States, however, is keeping the pressure on.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is scheduled to visit Beijing and Tokyo next week, and the tightening sanctions on Iran will be high on his agenda. United States officials said that Mr. Geithner will press China at least to resist importing more Iranian oil to replace exports that would otherwise go to Europe. The trip is part of a concerted effort by Western diplomats to persuade Asian countries to go along with new European sanctions, American and European officials say.

“It’s a global chess game,” said Daniel Yergin, the energy historian. “The major buyers are prudently beginning to make alternative plans to reduce their reliance on Iranian oil.”

The Asian efforts to wean themselves from Iranian crude are in response to legislation enacted by Congress at the end of last year requiring the administration to phase in sanctions in stages by late June that would make it very difficult for others to buy Iranian oil, by barring transactions with Iran’s central bank.

The sanctions exempt food, medicine and other humanitarian trade and include a presidential waiver for any country or company in cases in which the impact would harm the national security interests of the United States.

More significantly, the legislation exempts from sanctions countries that “significantly reduce” imports from Iran. The legislation does not define this term, leaving it to the administration, according to officials. The debate over the definition, now under way, has given the administration some leverage to entice allies like Japan, South Korea and even China to make some reductions, thus intensifying pressure, without having to take the hit of cutting off imports all at once.

But Japan and South Korea have expressed some alarm at the demand that they reduce their reliance on Iranian oil, fearing that such a move could undermine their economies. Japan, the second-largest buyer of Iranian oil, depends on Persian Gulf countries for four-fifths of its oil imports, which come through the Strait of Hormuz. Osamu Fujimura, the chief cabinet secretary, announced on Friday that Japan had expressed concern to the United States about the dangers to the Japanese and global economy from limits on Iran’s oil exports.

Yasushi Kimura, the president of the JX Nippon Oil and Energy Corporation, Japan’s largest refiner, announced on Thursday that his company had opened talks with Saudi Arabia and others, whom he did not name, about possible alternatives.

The South Korean government announced on Thursday that it was looking for ways to limit its imports of oil and oil products from Iran, but pointedly stopped short of suggesting that it could stop these imports altogether.

China, which imports about 11 percent of its oil from Iran, has actually reduced its daily purchases of Iranian crude, although estimates of the cutback range from as little as 15,000 barrels a day, or 3 percent of Chinese imports from Iran, to considerably more than that. It was hard to know if Beijing was making a political statement or merely trying to buy the oil on better terms.

“The Chinese have definitely cut back on long-term contracts, but we don’t know exactly why,” said Andy Lipow, a Houston refining and trading analyst. “They may feel they will be able to buy cheaper on short-term markets if Iran were to lose its European customers.”

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said it would increase production if needed to make up for any decline in exports from Iran, its longtime regional rival.

“Saudi Arabia and OPEC have always delivered what the market required,” said Sadad Ibrahim Al-Husseini, former head of exploration and production at Saudi Aramco, the Saudi state oil company. “There is enough supply from other OPEC countries” to compensate for losses of Iranian supplies, he added.

Mr. Husseini stressed that Middle Eastern oil markets were not yet in crisis mode, noting that insurance rates on tankers had not yet gone up in part because a tightening of European sanctions is at least a month away and a blockade of the strait is considered unlikely. “The market is still comfortable Iran cannot pull off its threats,” he said.

But oil analysts have warned that the international oil market remains tight, even with Libyan oil quickly coming back on line. Any disruption in the Middle East would probably bring a sharp increase in prices, which would put the shaky world economic recovery at risk, they say.

A senior government official in the Persian Gulf said Arab countries in the region were not panicking about the latest Iranian threats, while at the same time, encouraging the United States “to take a firm stand.”

“The last thing we want is some kind of military intervention,” said the official, who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly for his government. “But it should be left on the table.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry took a cautious position this week on Iran, reiterating China’s broad objection to all sanctions that have not been approved by the United Nations and expressing hope that no military action of any sort will take place.

“We hope to maintain peace and stability in the gulf region,” said Hong Lei, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, at a regularly scheduled news conference on Wednesday.

But China is worried about the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, said Patrick Ho, the chief executive and secretary general of the China Energy Fund Committee, an influential group in Hong Kong and Beijing with links to the Chinese government. “It is the lifeline as far as energy is concerned for China,” Mr. Ho said.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 26th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ArabianBusiness.com , Monday, September 26, 2011.

Obama thanks Oman for helping to free US hikers.

WAS IT ONE MILLION OR ACTUALLY THE FATTER SUM OF ONE BILLION?
Who eventually will foot the bill and will this be a precedent?
How much will an Arab government be ready to pay  for the Israeli hostage Gilad Shavit – as a humanitarian gesture or a gesture to jump-start peace negotiations in the neighborhood?

President Obama thanks Oman Sultan for helping to free US hikers

Gulf sultanate paid $1bn bail to secure release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal from Iranian jail

Then when you open the article it says:

US President Barack Obama has thanked Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said for intervening to secure the release of two US hikers jailed in Iran on charges of espionage and illegal entry.

“Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were released from Evin prison last week and flown into Oman after the Gulf sultanate paid the $1m bail to secure their release.”
The pair had been held for more than two years.

Obama called Sultan Qaboos bin Said to “convey the United States’ deepest appreciation for the Sultan’s exceptional and successful role in securing the release of the young American hikers,” the White House said in a statement.

“The president expressed our gratitude to the sultan and his special envoy, Salim al-Ismaili, for sparing no effort to secure the release of Sarah Shourd last year, and Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal this past Wednesday, thus ending a painful chapter for the hikers and their families.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 6th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Uri Avnery

Tel Aviv, May 7, 2011

 

                                             “Rejoice Not…”

 

“REJOICE NOT when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth, / Lest the Lord see [it], and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.”.

 

This is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible (Proverbs 24:17-18), and indeed in the Hebrew language. It is beautiful in other languages , too, though no translation comes close to the beauty of the original.

 

Of course, it is natural to be glad when one’s enemy is defeated, and the thirst for revenge is a human trait. But gloating – schadenfreude – is something different altogether. An ugly thing.

 

Ancient Hebrew legend has it that God got very angry when the Children of Israel rejoiced as their Egyptian pursuers drowned in the Red Sea. “My creatures are drowning in the sea,” God admonished them, “And you are singing?”

 

These thoughts crossed my mind when I saw the TV shots of jubilant crowds of young Americans shouting and dancing in the street. Natural, but unseemly. The contorted faces and the aggressive body language were no different from those of crowds in Sudan or Somalia. The ugly sides of human nature seem to be the same everywhere.

 

 

THE REJOICING may be premature. Most probably, al-Qaeda did not die with Osama bin-Laden. The effect may be entirely different.

 

In 1942 the British killed Abraham Stern, whom they called a terrorist. Stern, whose nom de guerre was Ya’ir, was hiding in a cupboard in an apartment in Tel Aviv. In his case too, it was the movements of his courier that gave him away. After making sure that he was the right man, the British police officer in command shot him dead.

 

That was not the end of his group – rather, a new beginning. It became the bane of British rule in Palestine. Known as the “Stern Gang” (its real name was “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel”), it carried out the most daring attacks on British installations and played a significant role in persuading the colonial power to leave the country.   

 

Hamas did not die when the Israeli air force killed Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the paralyzed founder, ideologue and symbol of Hamas. As a martyr he was far more effective than as a living leader. His martyrdom attracted many new fighters to the cause. Killing a person does not kill an idea. The Christians even took the cross as their symbol.

 

 

WHAT WAS the idea that turned Osama bin Laden into a world figure?

 

He preached the restoration of the Caliphate of the early Muslim centuries, which was not only a huge empire, but also a center of the sciences and the arts, poetry and literature, when Europe was still a barbaric, medieval continent. Every Arab child learns about these glories, and cannot but contrast them with the sorry Muslim present.

 

(In a way, these longings parallel the Zionist romantics’ dreams of a resurrected kingdom of David and Solomon.)

 

A new Caliphate in the 21st century is as unlikely as the wildest creation of the imagination. It would have been diametrically opposed to the Zeitgeist, were it not for its opponents – the Americans. They needed this dream – or nightmare – more than the Muslims themselves.

 

The American Empire always needs an antagonist to keep it together and to focus its energies. This has to be a worldwide enemy, a sinister advocate of an evil philosophy.

 

Such were the Nazis and Imperial Japan, but they did not last long. Fortunately, there was then the Communist Empire, which filled the role admirably.

 

There were Communists everywhere. All of them were plotting the downfall of freedom, democracy and the United States of America. They were even lurking inside the US, as
J. Edgar Hoover and  Senator Joe McCarthy so convincingly demonstrated.

 

For decades, the US flourished in the fight against the Red Menace; its forces spread all over the world, its spaceships reached the moon, its best minds engaged in a titanic battle of ideas, the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness.   

 

And then – suddenly – the whole thing collapsed. Soviet power vanished as if it had never existed. The American spy agencies, with their tremendous capabilities, were flabbergasted. Apparently, they had no idea how ramshackle the Soviet structure actually was. How could they see, blinded as they were by their own ideological preconceptions?

 

The disappearance of the Communist Threat left a gaping void in the American psyche, which cried out to be filled. Osama Bin Laden kindly offered his services.

 

It needed, of course, a world-shaking event to lend credibility to such a hare-brained utopia. The 9/11 outrage was just such an event. It produced many changes in the American way of life. And a new global enemy.

 

Overnight, medieval anti-Islamic prejudices are dusted-off for display. Islam the terrible, the murderous, the fanatical. Islam the anti-democratic, the anti-freedom, anti-all-our-values. . . Suicide bombers, 72 virgins, jihad.

 

The US springs to life again. Soldiers, spies and special forces fan out across the globe to fight terrorism. Bin Laden is everywhere. The War Against Terrorism is an apocalyptic struggle with Satan.

 

American freedoms have to be restricted, the US military machine grows by leaps and bounds. Power-hungry Intellectuals babble about the Clash of Civilizations and sell their souls for instant celebrity.

 

To produce the lurid paint for such a twisted picture of reality, religious Islamic groups are all thrown into the  same pot – the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Ayatollahs in Iran, Hizbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Indonesian separatists, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere, whoever. All become al-Qaeda, despite the fact that each has a totally different agenda, focused on its own country, while bin Laden aims to abolish all Muslim states and create one Holy Islamic Empire. . . Details, details.

 

The Holy War against the Jihad finds warriors everywhere. Ambitious demagogues, for whom this promises an easy way to inflame the masses, spring up in many countries, from France to Finland, from Holland to Italy. The hysteria of Islamophobia displaces good old anti-Semitism, using almost the same language. Tyrannical regimes present themselves as bulwarks against al-Qaeda, as they had once presented themselves as bulwarks against Communism. And, of course, our own Binyamin Netanyahu milks the situation for all it is worth,  traveling from capital to capital peddling his wares of anti-Islamism.

 

Bin Laden had good reason to be proud, and probably was.

 

 

WHEN I saw his picture for the first time, I joked that he was not a real person, but an actor straight from Hollywood’s Central Casting. He looked too good to be true – exactly as he would appear in a Hollywood movie – a handsome man, with a long black beard, posing with a Kalashnikov. His appearances on TV were carefully staged.

 

Actually, he was a very incompetent  terrorist, a real amateur. No genuine terrorist would have lived in a conspicuous villa, which stood out in the landscape like a sore thumb. Stern was hiding in a small roof apartment in a squalid quarter of Tel Aviv. Menachem Begin lived with his wife and son in a very modest ground floor apartment, playing the role of a reclusive rabbi.

 

Bin Laden’s villa was bound to attract the attention of neighbors and other people. They would have been curious about this mysterious stranger in their midst. Actually, he should have been discovered long  ago. He was unarmed and did not put up a fight. The decision to kill him on the spot and dump his body into [or “in”] the sea was evidently taken long before.

 

So there is no grave, no holy tomb. But for millions of Muslims, and especially Arabs, he was and remains a source of pride, an Arab hero, the ”[]“lion of lions” as a preacher in Jerusalem called him. Almost no one dared to come out and say so openly, for fear of the Americans, but even those who thought his ideas impractical and his actions harmful respected him in their heart.

 

Does that mean that al-Qaeda has a future? I don’t think so. It belongs to the past – not because bin Laden has been killed, but because his central idea is obsolete.

 

The Arab Spring embodies a new set of ideals, a new enthusiasm, one that does not glorify and hanker after a distant past but looks boldly to the future. The young men and women of Tahrir Square, with their longing for freedom, have consigned bin Laden to history, months before his physical death. His philosophy has a future only if the Arab Awakening fails completely and leaves behind a profound sense of disappointment and despair.

 

In the Western world, few will mourn him, but God forbid that anyone should gloat.

===================

Arabian Business website reports – Five days after the killing of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda confirms bin Laden death, vows to continue attacks, and quotes them by saying:

“In a historic day the Islamic nation … the mujahid (holy warrior) Sheikh Abu Abdullah, Osama bin Mohammed bin Laden, God have mercy on him, was killed on the path taken by those before him and will be taken by those after him.”

“Congratulations to the Islamic umma (community) for the martyrdom of its son Osama.”

www.arabianbusiness.com/al-qaeda-confirms-death-of-osama-bin-laden-398262.html

———————-

But ArabianBusiness.com also carried:

www.arabianbusiness.com/arab-revolts-turn-bin-laden-death-into-bloody-footnote-397609.html

Arab revolts turn bin Laden death into bloody footnote.

Osama bin Laden, slain by US forces in Pakistan on Sunday, seems curiously irrelevant in an Arab world fired by popular revolt against oppressive leaders.

“Bin Laden is just a bad memory,” said Nadim Houry, of Human Rights Watch, in Beirut. “The region has moved way beyond that, with massive broad-based upheavals that are game-changers.”

The al Qaeda leader’s bloody attacks, especially those of September 11, 2001, once resonated among some Arabs who saw them as grim vengeance for perceived indignities heaped upon them by the United States, Israel and their own American-backed leaders.

Bin Laden had dreamed that his global Islamist jihad would inspire Muslims to overthrow pro-Western governments, notably in Saudi Arabia, the homeland which revoked his citizenship.

He espoused jihad largely in anger at what he viewed as the occupation of Muslim lands by foreign “infidel” forces — the Russians in Afghanistan, the Americans in Saudi Arabia in the 1990 Gulf crisis, or the Israelis in Palestine.

But al Qaeda’s indiscriminate violence never galvanised Arab masses, while his networks came under severe pressure from Arab governments helping Western counter-terrorism efforts.

“Bin Laden’s brand of defiance in the early days probably excited some imaginations, but the senseless acts of violence destroyed any appeal he had,” Houry said.

Nowhere was this change of heart more marked than in Iraq, where anger at Muslim casualties inflicted by al Qaeda suicide bombings – and the Shi’ite sectarian backlash they provoked –  eventually drove Sunni tribesmen to ally with the Americans.

Popular sympathy for al Qaeda also evaporated in Saudi Arabia after a series of indiscriminate attacks in 2003-06.

If the ideological appeal of bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, who advocated the restoration of an Islamic caliphate, was already fading, the pro-democracy uprisings across the Arab world have further diminished it.

“At some stage Arab public opinion looked on bin Laden as a hope to end this kind of discrimination, the West’s way of dealing with Muslim and Arab nations, but now these nations are saying, we will do the change ourselves, we don’t need anyone to speak on our behalf,” said Mahjoob Zweiri, of Qatar University.

He said bin Laden’s killing would affect only a few who still believe in his path of maximising pain on the West.

“The majority of Muslim and Arab nations have their own choice. They are moving towards modern civil societies,” Zweiri argued. “People believe in gradual change, civil change, they don’t want violence, even against the leaders who crushed them.”

Peaceful Arab protests have already toppled autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia and are threatening the leaders of Yemen and Syria, while a popular revolt against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi has turned into a civil war with Western military intervention.

These dramas appear to have shocked al Qaeda almost into silence. Even its most active branch, the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has mounted no big attacks during months of popular unrest against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Martin Indyk, a former US assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, described bin Laden’s death as “a body blow” to al Qaeda at a time when its ideology was already being undercut by the popular revolutions in the Arab world.

“Their narrative is that violence and terrorism is the way to redeem Arab dignity and rights. What the people in the streets across the Arab world are doing is redeeming their rights and their dignity through peaceful, non-violent protests – the exact opposite of what al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have been preaching,” said Indyk, now at the Brookings Institution.

“He hasn’t managed to overthrow any government, and they are overthrowing one after the other. I would say that the combination of the two puts al Qaeda in real crisis.”

Bin Laden may have become a marginal figure in the Arab world, but the discontent he tapped into still exists.

“The underlying reasons why people turn to these kinds of violent, criminal, terroristic movements are still there,” said Beirut-based commentator Rami Khouri, alluding to the “anger and humiliation of people who feel that Western countries, their own Arab leaders or Israel treat them with disdain”.

Nevertheless, he predicted a continued slide in al Qaeda’s fortunes, particularly as US troop withdrawals from Iraq and later from Afghanistan remove potent sources of resentment.

“The Arab spring is certainly a sign that the overwhelming majority of Arabs, as we have known all along, repudiated bin Laden,” Khouri said. “He and Zawahri tried desperately to get traction among the Arab masses, but it just never worked.

“People who followed him would be those who would form little secret cells and go off to Afghanistan, but the vast majority of people rejected his message.

“What Arabs want is what they are fighting for now, which is more human rights, dignity and democratic government.”



 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We feel that if the data here is accurate, Arab business is rather looking for new talent in the new world. We believe that most young recruits to businesses in North Africa and the Middle East are returning young talent and that this positions well these business companies for the changing global atmosphere. It is rather that then looking to hire on the cheap. The business slow down has just helped refresh the human capital of MENA (The Middle East – North Africa Arab region).

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 www.arabianbusiness.com/595422-me…

MENA firms hire new graduates to cut costs – poll

by

Elsa Baxter,  Sunday, 22 August 2010.

GRADUATES: 37.6 percent of people said their employers preferred to hire fresh graduates post recession. (Getty Images)

GRADUATES: 37.6 percent of people said their employers preferred to hire fresh graduates post recession. (Getty Images)

Almost 40 percent of Middle East and North African (MENA) employees said their company was more interested in hiring new university graduates since the global recession, according to the latest poll by Bayt.com.

The survey, which consulted 13,197 respondents from across the region, found that 37.6 percent of people said their employers preferred to hire fresh graduates, while 26.4 percent said they were less inclined to do so. A further 19.2 percent of respondents said things were unchanged.

More than half (51.7 percent) of participants said the number one motivation behind the hiring was financial because new graduates command lower salaries and fewer benefits, while 12.7 percent said it was because they would have more passion for the job.

A further 10.4 percent it was because new graduates would have more creativity, 8.4 percent said it was due to their fresh analytical thinking, and 5.1 percent cited better communication skills. {our math says this is 37.6% or that one out of 2,9 respondents was honest about the motives. The others belong to the commonly held  idea that age makes people wiser while we rather think that today ag makes most people more obsolete}

“The results of our most recent poll show that in times of economic strife employers are perceived as more likely to hire fresh graduates mostly due to the fact that they accept a lower salary and require fewer benefits,” said Amer Zureikat, vice president of sales, Bayt.com.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowP…

Vol. 9, No. 25    May 14, 2010

Rising Tension between Iran and the Gulf States.

by Zvi Mazel

  • The Gulf states are conducting an appeasement policy toward Tehran while with increasing dread they helplessly follow the nuclear crisis, epitomized by Iranian determination and aggression in the face of American weakness.
  • In the last few weeks we witnessed a number of acrimonious exchanges between the Gulf states and Iran following the exposure of an Iranian clandestine network in Kuwait and renewed tension between the UAE and Iran over the continuous occupation by Iran of three islands belonging to the UAE. An Iranian spokesperson said that the Emirates states belonged to Iran and when the time came, they would come under Iran’s control.
  • The official Iranian news agency warned the Gulf states against pursuing confrontation: “There is no lion in the region save for the one that crouches on the shore opposite the Emirate states. He guards his den which is the Persian Gulf. Those who believe that another lion exists in the vicinity (meaning the U.S.) – well, his claws and fangs have already been broken in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine.”
  • It is Qatar, which hosts large American military bases, that maintains the most cordial relations with Iran. Qatar is also influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite the fact that the Brotherhood members are Sunni, they have elected at this juncture to support Iran in its conflict with the United States.
  • The provocative naval maneuvers that Iran continues to conduct are indeed intended as a warning to the United States and Israel, but they also convey a clear message to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states: “We are here alongside you and we have massive power. Do not dare to provoke us.”

The Impotence of the Gulf States

Relations between Iran and the Gulf states are more strained than ever. Iran is issuing threats and working non-stop to undermine their stability. It repeatedly declares that these countries are part of its historic territory and it will take them over at the appropriate time.

In the meantime, Iran is exploiting their territory and services to circumvent the sanctions that were already imposed on it over the last two years. Straw companies were established in Dubai and apparently in Bahrain and Kuwait as well to purchase sophisticated products on Iran’s behalf that were needed to advance its nuclear program. The banks in these countries also provide a smokescreen for illicit transactions and money-laundering by Revolutionary Guard leaders. The Gulf states are aware of what is going on, but in the meantime, they are conducting an appeasement policy toward Tehran – even if they themselves have no confidence in it. All this is occurring while with increasing dread they helplessly follow the nuclear crisis, epitomized by Iranian determination and aggression in the face of American weakness.

Iranian Subversion and the Gulf States

The tension level in the region has increased in recent days as once again a measure of Iranian subversion in the Gulf states came to light.1 In Kuwait a spy network acting on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards was uncovered; it intended to establish the infrastructure in anticipation of a takeover of the country: to incite the Shiites against the regime, establish sleeper cells to act when the time came, and provide support for illicit economic activity.2

This time parliament members insisted that Kuwait not back down from confronting Iran, and the attorney general has already submitted an indictment to the courts. Kuwait, located between Iraq and Saudi Arabia on the Gulf shore, is considered a stable and moderate country, with close ties to the United States. It provides strategic depth and a lifeline for the American army in Iraq. American soldiers on their way to and from Iraq pass through Kuwait, and the U.S. Army’s weapons and munitions are funneled via Kuwait.

Tension with the Emirates over the Occupied Islands

The confrontation between Iran and the United Arab Emirates escalated as UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan compared the continuous occupation by Iran of three islands belonging to his country to “the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands.”3 Iran conquered these islands (Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunb) during the time of the Shah in 1971, the year that the Emirates gained independence from British rule. In recent years Iran has settled the islands and established military camps there. The rulers of the Emirates, on the other hand, continue to reiterate their demand that Iran restore the islands or agree to international arbitration. Iran refuses. The issue is also on the Arab League agenda, and at every senior-level conclave the demand to restore the islands to their legal owners is emphasized.

Iran Responds to Kuwait with Derision and Menace

The Iranian response to Kuwait and the UAE was as brutal as ever. Iran totally denied that spies acting on its behalf were operating in Kuwait and warned the entire regional media “not to take lightly their responsibility to publish credible information and particularly [avoid] baseless information.” This affair recalls the exposure of a Hizbullah cell in Egypt whose members were placed on trial and sentenced to long prison terms.4 In this case, Hizbullah conceded its guilt, but explained that the intention was to assist Hamas in Gaza against Israel. Nevertheless, everyone knows that Hizbullah was operating in the service of Iran to strike at Egyptian stability.

In a response to the declaration by the UAE foreign minister, the charge’ d’affaires of its embassy in Iran was summoned to the Foreign Ministry where he was read a protest, whose main points were that “the Iranian people considered itself aggrieved by the foreign minister’s declaration and that the response to these declarations would be severe.” An Iranian spokesperson even said that the Emirates states belonged to Iran and when the time came, they would come under Iran’s control.

The Lone Lion in the Gulf

With these incidents in the background, the official Iranian news agency published a notice warning the Gulf states against pursuing confrontation in the following picturesque language:

There is no lion in the region save for the one that crouches on the shore opposite the Emirate states. He guards his den which is the Persian Gulf. Those who believe that another lion exists in the vicinity (meaning the United States) – well, his claws and fangs have already been broken in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine. No good can be expected of him or his hunting sorties. Today he is counting the days until he finds a way out that will allow him to escape by the skin of his teeth. Iran, the Emirates, and the other countries in the region will remain, by dint of geography, neighbors forever.5

This is indeed an interesting and realistic expression of the condition in the region as long as the West does not alter its weak policy.

A Rise in the Level of Escalation with Bahrain

Iranian confrontation with Bahrain made recent headlines when the director of the Bahraini anti-drug trafficking apparatus, Mubarak bin Abdallah al-Marri, said at a regional conclave in Riyadh that Iran operated directly to smuggle drugs into Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and that both countries had thwarted many smuggling attempts by sea in Iranian vessels coming from Iranian territory.6 A year ago, one of Khamenei’s advisors announced that Bahrain was the 14th district of Iran, an announcement that triggered severe responses in the Arab world. Egyptian President Mubarak immediately flew to Bahrain to express his support. Intermittent reports are published about Iranian subversion in Bahrain with the assistance of Shiite citizens who constitute about 60 percent of the population.7

It is to be recalled that the Bahraini authorities produced intelligence for the Clinton administration in the mid-1990s that Iran was behind a subversion campaign to overthrow the Bahraini government. In 1995, Tehran acquired a new incentive: the U.S. upgraded its naval presence in Bahrain to become the headquarters of the newly-created U.S. Fifth Fleet. Successful Iranian subversion in Bahrain would also have a major strategic consequence by forcing the withdrawal of the U.S. Navy from its main base in the Persian Gulf, just as Iran seeks to establish itself as the hegemonial power of the entire region.

Qatar – The Odd Man Out in Its Support of Iran

It is precisely Qatar, which hosts large American military bases, that maintains the most cordial relations with Iran. This policy apparently derives from the desire of Qatar’s ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa, who is engaged in a protracted dispute with Saudi Arabia, to flaunt his independence as compared with the other Gulf states which efface themselves before Saudi Arabia. Qatar is also influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood, which maintains a large and influential presence there. Despite the fact that the Brotherhood members are Sunni, they have elected at this juncture to support Iran in its conflict with the United States.

Two years ago, the Qatari ruler invited Iranian President Ahmedinejad to a summit meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council without informing his colleagues, who expressed their displeasure. He also sent his chief of staff to Tehran to examine options for military cooperation.8 During Israel’s Gaza Operation, he even convened an Arab summit, together with Syria, that called for severing relations with Israel, thus arousing Mubarak’s ire.

The Qatari shift occurred right after the Bush administration released its 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran that suggested the Iranians had suspended key aspects of their nuclear weapons program back in 2003. From the perspective of the Persian Gulf states, this was the first indication that they might not be able to rely on U.S. determination to block Iran’s quest for regional hegemony, and the Qataris sought a rapprochement with Iran instead.

Oman, situated astride the exit from the Persian Gulf, attempts to maintain balanced relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran, and recently refused to join a convention for a monetary union of Gulf states.

Saudi Arabia’s Plight

Saudi Arabia, the largest Sunni state and the caretaker of Islam’s holy places, is worried. Despite the fact that it has expended prodigious sums on the purchase of American weapons and equipment, its small army is incapable of deterring or even contending with Iran. It is doing its utmost to assist Sunni forces struggling against the spread of the Shiite wave under the baton of Iran, as we have witnessed in Iraq, Lebanon, and most recently in Yemen with the Houthi revolt that is supported by Iran. Eastern Saudi Arabia, where the country’s largest oil reserves are located, contains a sizable Shiite minority. Their incitement by Iran could trigger a civil war and inflict mortal damage on Saudi oil resources and exports, the cornerstone of the Saudi economy and the royal family’s power.

At this stage, although Saudi Arabia is in the same camp with Egypt versus Iran, Riyadh prefers to maintain relative calm in its communications, to avoid provocation and aggravated tension, in the belief that its friend the United States will protect it. Yet Saudi-owned media outlets openly admit the magnitude of the Iranian threat. For example, Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed, director-general of the Saudi Al-Arabiya network, wrote in the Saudi London daily Asharq al-Awsat that nuclear weapons in Iran’s hands would help it dominate the Middle East region through subversion: “We fear the logic of the current regime in Tehran, which spent the country’s funds on Hizbullah, Hamas, the extremist movements in Bahrain, Iraq and Yemen, and the Muslim Brotherhood, and supported every extremist in the region. The Ahmadinejad regime aspires to expansion, hegemony, and a clear takeover on the ground, and to do this he needs a nuclear umbrella.”9

Given the failed attempts by the West to impose sanctions on Iran, and the voices emerging from Washington that diplomacy is the way to solve the crisis and that the military option is off the table, Ahmedinejad has nothing to fear, at least at the current stage. He feels he can advance his subversive plan and strike at the countries of the region. The provocative naval maneuvers that Iran continues to conduct are indeed intended to deter the United States and Israel, but they also convey a clear message to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states: “We are here alongside you and we have massive power. Do not dare to provoke us.” Meanwhile, the United States offers no response.

*     *     *

Notes

1. Iran has trained secret networks of agents across the Gulf states to attack Western interests and incite civil unrest in the event of a military strike against its nuclear program, a former Iranian diplomat has told the Sunday Telegraph. Trained by Iranian intelligence services, they are also said to be recruiting fellow Shias in the region, whose communities have traditionally been marginalized by the Gulf’s ruling Sunni Arab clans. The claims have been made by Adel Assadinia, a former career diplomat who was Iran’s consul-general in Dubai and an adviser to the Iranian foreign ministry. Colin Freeman, “Iran Poised to Strike in Wealthy Gulf States,” Sunday Telegraph (UK), March 4, 2007.

2. In the wake of the arrests, Bahraini authorities said they had arrested a Bahrain national suspected of links to the Kuwait spy operation. “Gulf Leaders Back Kuwait in Alleged Iran Spy Case,” AFP, as reported in Asharq al-Awsat, May 12, 2010.

3. “Iran Occupation of UAE Islands like Israel’s: FM,” Al Arabiya, April 21, 2010, www.alarabiya.net/articles/2010/04/21/106444.html.

4. Miret El Naggar, ”Hezbollah Spy Cell in Egypt Found Guilty of Terror Plots,” McClatchy-Christian Science Monitor, April 29, 2010, www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/0429/Hezbollah-spy-cell-in-Egypt-found-guilty-of-terror-plots.

5. IRNA news agency, as reported in Asharq al-Awsat (UK), May 2, 2010.

6. “Iran Accused of Money Laundering, Drug Trafficking,” Arab Times (Kuwait), May 7, 2010, www.arabtimesonline.com/NewsDetails/tabid/96/smid/414/ArticleID/153492/reftab/96/t/Iran-accused-of-money-laundering-drug-trafficking/Default.aspx.

7. While it’s unclear whether the Kuwaiti cell indeed extended to Bahrain and the UAE, Bahrain has also been subject to subversive activities in recent years. On the eve of the Gaza war of 2008-2009, the Bahraini authorities announced the arrest of a group of Shia militants who had received training in Syria, accusing them of planning terrorist attacks during Bahrain’s national day celebrations. As for the UAE, it followed Kuwait’s lead by deporting foreigners, especially Lebanese Shia. Starting in summer 2009, scores of Shia were suddenly expelled. Tony Badran, “The Shape of Things to Come with Iran,” Now Lebanon, May 13, 2010, www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=167522.

8. “Iran, Qatar Sign Defense Cooperation Agreement,” Tehran Times, February 25, 2010, www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=214868.

9. L. Barkan, “Reactions in the Gulf to Tension over Iranian Nuclear Issue,” MEMRI, April 8, 2010.

*     *     *

The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt and Sweden, is a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. This essay reflects the view of the author alone.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 15th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreed in 2001 to create a shared currency to help them integrate economies and pursue a monetary policy more independently of the US.

All of the council’s members except Kuwait peg their currencies to the dollar.

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar on December 15 announced the creation of a Monetary Council, a step toward establishing a shared currency. The board of the council, which will set a timetable for establishing a joint central bank and choose a currency regime, will meet for the first time on March 30.

Oman opted out in 2007. The UAE, the second-biggest Arab economy, withdrew from the currency project in May 2009 after the Saudi capital, Riyadh was selected as the location for the Monetary Council, the future central bank.

The UAE has no plans to rejoin the union project, said January 6, 2010 central bank Governor Sultan bin Nasser al-Suwaidi.Today, in Abu Dhabi, he said that the UAE remains committed to the concept of a single currency, though free trade in the region must come first. That is the reason for a Bloomberg new report on the topic.

“For the time being of course we are out because the remaining members of the Gulf monetary union, they want to go at a very high speed and they want to go for a single currency regardless of the status of completion of the common market,” al-Suwaidi said.

“If we establish a common currency before a common market then a common currency won’t help us, it will not create for us new growth engines,” al-Suwaidi said. “You need to fix the borders, entry and exit through the borders, you need to fix company laws to implement similar company laws, commercial laws, labor laws.”

Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah al-Salem al- Sabah said on December 8, 2010 that a single currency may take 10 years to establish. The original target was this year.

The regime of the future currency will be decided by the Monetary Council, which will set a “road-map” for the project, Mohammed al-Mazrooei, assistant secretary general for economic affairs at the GCC, said on January 14, 2010.

The Gulf states must work to maintain the political will for the union, agree on the design for the new currency and establish measures to protect it from counterfeiting, al-Mazrooei said. The chairman of the future central bank also needs to be chosen, he said.

We post this because it seems to us that the States of the Arab Peninsula seem reluctant to learn from the experience of the EU, that you cannot come up with an effective common policy if you are not ready to cede of your sovereignty to the common market. Also, you do not succeed if you try to set the seat of the new body in the capital of the largest economy of the group you try to unite.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 15th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: NYU Abu Dhabi Institute <nyuad.institute@nyu.edu>
Date: Mon, Feb 15, 2010 at 3:25 AM
Subject: “Leadership for a New Era” and other Upcoming Events

NYU Abu Dhabi Institute - Upcoming Events
All events are free and open to the public. Events are held at the Al Mamoura Auditorium, Abu Dhabi.

For a map and directions, go here.

For more information on these events go here.

Seating is Limited
RSVP for all events at nyuad.institute@nyu.edu.

Leadership for a New Era: Fostering Leadership for Public Well-Being

Tuesday, February 16
6:30 – 8:30 pm

Fadi Ghandour
CEO and Founder, Aramex International
Barbara Ibrahim
Founding Director, John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement, AUC
Asya Al-Lamki
Omani Cultural Attaché, Embassy of Oman, Washington D.C.

Moderated by
Mariët Westermann
Provost, NYU Abu Dhabi

Click to Read More. RSVP

Texts and Textiles

Thursday, February 18
6:30 – 8:30 pm

Paula Sanders
Dean of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies, Professor of History, Rice University

Click to Read More. RSVP

Visual Re?ections on Arabic Poetry

Sunday, Feb 21
6:30 – 8:30 pm

Salwa Mikdadi
Head of the Arts & Culture Programme, The Emirates Foundation

Click to Read More. RSVP

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.as…

Oman- No ban on sheesha cafes

(MENAFN – Times of Oman) Even as the Muscat Municipality recently decided to ban smoking in public places, citizens are confused as to whether the ban would also be applicable to Sheesha cafes in the city.

“I wish the decision to ban smoking is extended to the sheesha cafes,” said Hussein Al Rahbi, an employee at a private company.

“As it amounts to passive smoking, which again is harmful,” he said.

The Muscat Municipality has decided to ban smoking from April this year. As per the directives, smoking is banned in enclosed and semi-enclosed places, which have been, according to the municipality, declared as public places.

The decision to ban smoking was initiated keeping in mind the complaints from the local people and for providing a healthy atmosphere at public places.

Said Mahmoud Al Hashmi, a civil servant, said some of the sheesha cafes are in the proximity of houses and as a result residents are sometimes exposed to smoke from these sheesha cafes.

He further said that the Muscat Municipality should impose certain conditions on the cafes that would also take into account the health of the people residing in nearby houses.

Another resident, Saud Alsalmi, says that sometimes people staying in the vicinity of these Sheesha cafes are forced to face the unbearable noise and shouting that emanate from these cafes until midnight, especially during football matches.

The entire neighbourhood faces significant problems at such times in terms of parking spaces for their vehicles.

Aslam, manager of a sheesha restaurant, said: “If the Muscat Municipality decides to extend the ban to sheesha cafes, it would lead to a great loss for the cafes. We have been paying for licences, health cards for workers, rent, fines and sponsor’s allowance. If smoking in Sheesha is banned, it would be better the government bans cigarettes altogether,” said Aslam.

He added that in such a scenario let the Sheesha cafes in the city be relocated to some remote areas where they will not pose any threat to the health of citizens.

Suleiman bin Hamoud Al Kindi, director-general of the Muscat Municipality, said, “The executive of the municipality is currently working out the norms that fall under the local order to comply with the application (of the ban) from the beginning of next April.”

Ibrahim Alhsni of the media department of the Muscat Municipality, said, “The decision on ban does not cover sheeshas.”

However, he said that many residents had been complaining about the Sheesha cafes and demanding that they be relocated from near their houses.

By Fahad Al Mukrashi

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 21st, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The title may look strange, and indeed nobody put the three meetings I attended Friday, November 20, 2009, in direct contact with each other – but then my imagination was busy telling me – what if those people would indeed sit in the same room and plan together for a better functioning world?

First – the Solar Tower Technology:

An experimental smaller tower I saw years ago in Israel, but in the 1980s a German firm built a 50 kw prototype tower in Spain and operated it for 8 years collecting data. That tower was 650 feet tall and 33 feet wide, and the collector was about 1000 feet wide. The technology combines wind and solar technologies to produce electricity without emissions, without using up water, and at a price competitive with fossil fuels. The Solar Tower uses solar insolation and radiation to heat air beneath a large translucent collector (greenhouse) that creates a constant flow of air to drive electricity-generating turbines. The turbines are located at the base of the tower in a shape like an orange cut in a half. There is an updraft of air in the tower. There is also a capability to store heat so the system works also at night and electricity is delivered 24/7.
For more information look please at - www.enviromission.com.au

A 200MV Tower is planned for the Mohave desert in Arizona. The tower will reach 2400 feet height and the inside temperature will be 180 degrees. The location was picked so that it will supply electricity to a market in California.

The information was presented by Mr. Christopher Davey, President, EnviroMission (USA), Inc. and hosted by Mark Townsend Cox, Managing Partner of New Energy Fund www.newenergyfundlp.com with further backing from Raymond James & Associates, Inc., members of the New York Stock Exchange.

envirowide-new0008

Second – the financial meeting was billed as The Middle East Leaders Forum 2009 and was hosted by DLA Piper a law firm with pan-Gulf presence www.dlapiper.com  I www.MiddleEastLeadersForum.com was organized with the help of Edgar Perez, CEO of Golden Networking who chaired the event. www.goldennetworking.com DLA has 3,500 lawyers in 29 countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, Egypt, the US, South Asia, and Asia in general.

The panels dealt with -
Evolution of Capital Markets in the Middle East;
Alternative Approaches for Private Equity Investing in the Gulf;
Tapping into the World’s Richest Sovereign Wealth Funds;
Retaining Talent and Focusing Teams in the Middle East.

The speakers ranged from the Thompson Reuters Head of Islamic Finance to various International Investment Groups – management and strategy heads. What I came away with is the clear understanding that there is a lot of private money out there – even if much of it is held by individuals in the name of Sovereign entities. This money will not want to buy US treasuries. Places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar – the smaller members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – have turned into Financial Centers and one of the speakers called the GCC the biggest bank in the world. Sure, there was a lot of talk of outside investments potential in the GCC States, also about income from oil, but now the ruling families are rather interested in being seen as investors and manager of finances then oil producers. So, here is my angle – why not invest in the technologies of the future – like the Solar Tower I mentioned above? There is also the angle of Islamic Finances that do not have as a target gains from interest – so why not turn this into investments instead?

There is a lot of sun in the desert, but no water – so these towers could do a lot of good for the development of the GCC region itself. They could also invest in the production of electricity in Sahara and sell it in Europe. Cables will be the new energy pipelines. They could start by participating already in the first development of the technology in Arizona. This could also improve the image of states that seem to be pushing only for sales of oil – something they can start being less dependent on because of their new standing as financial centers. The technology could also be related to desalination projects …

Third – the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation that since 1973 facilitates cultural exchange programs that promote mutual understanding and peace. The foundation brings volunteers and NGOs for meaningful exchanges that also focus on sustainable development. These are the people that could through example facilitate thinking that there is a common good in helping bring about change when change is needed – and today doing something about decreasing a potential runaway of climate change is the order of the day. Patrick Sciarratta, is the Executive Director of the Ambassadors – they could try to promote a common ground between those that have the money they could use to work out needed answers to the stalled Copenhagen process, and the technology people that have the know-how. www.FAF.org

One not so trivia I learned about the Friendship Ambassadors last evening was the fact that among the many young people they brought from the Developing world to the United States were Kofi Annan and Shashi Tharoor, when they were still young students – they later became among the most successful, low key, public servants in UN history. Kofi Annan as perhaps the only other Secretary General, besides Dag Hammarskjold, that left a positive imprint on the organization, and Shashi Tharoor, author of many books of thought, the highest intellectual Under-Secretary General in charge of Communications, who tried to be Annan’s successor, but was seemingly too much for the G.W. Bush Administration for that job. I mention this here as it seems that this youth-Ambassador NGO, that was funded originally from the Readers Digest fortune, has indeed had the penchant of picking right people – specially among the young – to promote global understanding for right causes.

My conclusions for the day – there is hope if the right people will provide the links between the different elements that are in place already, rather then allow these elements to fester in their solitude and pursue a detrimental future unconnected.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 2nd, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

“Nabs” becomes first Arab to reach the North Pole
by Neeraj Gangal on Friday, 01 May 2009, ArabianBusiness.com

antartica_thumb.jpg
FIRST MAN: Nabil Al Busaidi was ranked 97 on the Arabian Business Power 100 list. (Getty Images)

Omani adventurer Nabil “Nabs” Al Busaidi has become the first Arab to walk to the North Pole, the Gulf News Daily reported on Friday.

The 39-year-old was also part of the Oman North Pole Expedition team that won the Polar Race, the daily added.

Al Busaidi and his two teammates achived the distinction of walking more than 650km, an effort that took 27 hours of continuous walking until they reached the finish line.

They only took short breaks for food and clinched victory despite hallucinating and falling asleep while walking, his friend Maria Jense said, according to the Bahrain-based newspaper.

“My name is Nabil Al Busaidi, I am the son of Riadh and Salma Al Busaidi and I am calling from the North Pole,” Nabs is quoted as saying as he proudly planted the Omani flag at the North Pole.

“I am the first Omani, the first GCC national and the first Arab to walk to the North Magnetic Pole.

“I want Oman to be proud of my achievement, so today, my name is not Nabil, it is Shabab (the youth of) Oman.”

Nabil Al Busaidi was ranked 97 on the Arabian Business Power 100 list.

Before his expedition, he was quoted as saying: “When an individual is so committed to his goal that he is willing to stake his very existence on it, then nothing can stop him from achieving it.”

Dragging 50kg of equipment on sledge including food, water and tent, Al Busaidi walked the 650km over frozen sea in temperatures regularly nudging   minus 40 degrees Celsius.

Preparations for the expedition had been ongoing for eight months and Nabil had been training hard.

“Fitness endurance and aerobic training is a daily routine now,” he said. “Every day starts with running up stairs, or swimming, or on the cross-country ski machine.”

Nabs will return to Oman on May 6, according to the Gulf Daily News.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 7th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From:  liasieghart at hotmail.com
Subject: Yemen, cogeneration and the CDM an outline of opportunity
Date: September 4, 2008

The Clean Development Mechanism has been instrumental in the development of a number of cogeneration projects around the world, but none yet in Yemen, where the scope for projects is certainly present. Lia Carol Sieghart looks at the role that cogeneration could play as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the country.
The Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997, at the 3rd Conference of the Parties (COP 3) to the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Kyoto, Japan. This treaty significantly bolstered the Convention by committing parties from developed countries, known as Annex 1 Parties, to legally binding limits on GHG emissions. They may also acquire emission reduction credits by taking advantage of the three ‘flexibility mechanisms’ defined under the Protocol.These mechanisms are:

  • International Emissions Trading (IET)
  • Joint Implementation (JI)
  • Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The latter is the only mechanism that involves developing countries. The CDM allows Annex 1 Parties (or entities from those Parties) to invest in project activities that reduce GHG emissions and contribute to sustainable development in non-Annex 1 countries.The CDM has seen an exponential growth since the Kyoto Protocol came into effect in 2005. The end of 2007 provided a milestone with the 100-millionth certified emission reduction credit being issued. In April 2008 the 1000th project, an energy efficiency project, was registered with the Executive Board. At present there are more 3000 projects in the UNFCCC pipeline.Nevertheless, the number of host countries playing a vital role is still very limited. The geographic dispersion of registered projects remains imbalanced. So far the main share of projects is with Asia and Latin America. Most projects are registered with India as a host country, followed by China, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia and Chile. India and China in particular have been early movers and have grasped the investment opportunities provided by the CDM. The vast majority of projects registered are in the energy sector. Taking into consideration the projects under validation and those requesting registration, it seems that this distribution pattern will not change significantly during the first commitment period.

    There are many reasons why the CDM has so far fallen short of its full potential, many of which are country-specific while others are repeatedly reported from various countries. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region 18 countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, but to date only 20 projects have been registered (Table 1). This amounts to ~2 % of the total of registered project activities.

    The MENA Region population comprises about 6% of the total world population, almost equivalent to the population of the European Union. Most MENA countries are experiencing a rapid population growth. The region is economically diverse – the spectrum ranges from oil-rich economies to countries that are resource-scarce in relation to population.

    By 2050, the MENA countries will reach an electricity demand of the same magnitude as Europe (3500 TWh/y). In some of the countries, electricity demand is expected to triple from almost 1500 TWh/y at present to 4100 TWh/y in 2050. Correspondingly, the effects of climate change will become more severe. The fossil fuel-based power sector offers enormous potential for CO2 emission reductions, both through energy efficiency improvements in existing applications as well as utilization of state-of-the-art technology for new capacity additions.

    Given the surging growth in energy demand, the region needs to develop sustainable energy patterns, increase energy accessibility – particularly for marginalized populations in rural areas – and encourage efficient use of energy. Countries need to embark on a less carbon-intensive development path. Utilizing the CDM can provide a vital trigger in this process.

    CHP has a clear opportunity to expand quickly. CHP installations, by combining electricity production with a heat recovery system, provide reliable and cost-effective opportunities for GHG emissions reduction and an important contribution to meeting heat and electricity demand. Cogeneration projects also have the potential to bring energy efficiency measures to large industries in the region, while the MENA oil industry and refinery capacity offers further significant cost-effective potential for heat recovery and cogeneration.

    THE REPUBLIC OF YEMEN

    The Republic of Yemen lies to the south of Saudi Arabia, bounded by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The 2004 census recorded a population of 19.72 million, with an average annual population growth rate of 3.2 % and one of the highest birth rates in the MENA Region. Yemen remains one of the poorest countries in the world, and currently ranks 49 on the UN’s list of the 50 Least Developed Countries. Yemen’s GNI per capita is US$760, compared to, for example, US$12,510 in Saudi Arabia, US$23,990 in the United Arab Emirates and US$9070 in Oman2. According to the Country Social Analysis (2006) by the World Bank the GDP growth rate has been falling steadily in recent years. Inflation has been averaging at almost 12% since 2002, rapidly increasing the cost of living.

    The country, a non-OPEC member, is the smallest oil producer in the Middle East3. Nevertheless, the economy is highly dependent on the oil sector, with the country’s oil exports accounting for approximately 85% of export revenues and 33% of gross domestic product (GDP). Yemen’s energy use relies heavily on fossil fuels. Thus, there is potential to reduce GHG emissions in the energy sector, the oil and refinery industry and in the industrial sector.

    GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS IN YEMEN

    The 2001 First National Communication to the UNFCCC used 1995 as a reference year for Yemen’s GHG emissions inventory due to the high uncertainty of 1994′s information as a result of the April–July 1994 civil war. The total GHG emissions (CO2, CH4, N2O) of the country, in 1995, amounted to 18.7 million tonnes CO2eq, (CO2=11.4 million tonnes, CH4=128,000 and NO2=15,000). Taking CO2 removal into account, the total net emission of CO2 is 845,000 tonnes. These figures are exclusive of the emission from the international bunker (114,350 tonnes CO2) and from combustion of biomass (353,290 tonnes CO2).

    Yemen’s emission profile by gas type for 1995 shows that CO2 accounts for 61% of the total national GHG emissions (113,580 tonnes CO2), N2O 25% (465,700 tonnes CO2eq) and CH4 14% (269,400 tonnes CO2eq). Table 2 shows gas emissions by various sectors.

    If we look at the industrial processes, there are many that create GHG emissions as a by-product of the process itself. Cement production generated the most emissions (99.3%). Other production processes with minor emissions are lime production, limestone use and soda use (food & beverages). The total GHG generated by these processes was estimated at 547,000 tonnes CO2eq, which accounted for 2.92% of the country’s total GHG emissions. The production of cement in Yemen in 1995 was 1,089,000 tonnes that resulted in CO2 emission of 543,000 tonnes CO2eq representing 4.8% of the country’s total CO2 emissions (energy sector, industrial processes etc), while it represents around 2.9% of the total GHGs.

    The CO2 emission from cement production was calculated by multiplying 1995 cement production (1,089,000 tonnes) by the emission factor (0.4985 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of cement produced). The SO2 emitted from cement production was obtained by using an emission factor of 0.3 kg SO2/tonne cement, thus leading to 330 tonnes SO2 in 1995.

    THE YEMENI ENERGY SECTOR

    Yemen’s 100% state-owned Public Electricity Corporation (PEC) formed in 1991, under the Ministry of Electricity, is the sole public utility with the mandate for generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity in the country. The entity operates approximately 80% of the country’s generating capacity as part of the national grid. The remainder is generated by small off-grid suppliers and privately owned generators, predominantly in rural areas4. In urban areas diesel generators are also used as back-up systems. The efficiency of diesel generators can be up to 40%. Electricity demand amounted to 3294 GWh in 2005, an increase of 9.6% annually since 2000.

    The Yemeni population has the lowest access to electricity in the region, with only 53%5 of the total population having access. Of the 72% of the Yemeni population living in rural areas, only 23% have any access to electricity, which compares unfavourably with 85% of the urban population that have access to electricity. Out of this 23%, about 10%–14% is connected to the national grid system while the remainder is estimated to have some access from other sources, typically a diesel generator that operates only a few hours in the evening. Even for those connected to the grid, electricity supply is intermittent, with regular rolling blackouts in most cities.

    Yemen has been experiencing a chronic power supply shortage. An estimate for the electric power deficit in 2006 was 220 MW, a figure that is expected to increase to 250 MW in 2008. With the 2005 increase in diesel prices, the cost of diesel generation has become economically unsustainable thereby significantly increasing the demand for a lower-carbon, more-efficient, lower-cost and reliable energy future.

    The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP, 2003–2005) states the following: ‘Indicators show the failure of electric power in Yemen in keeping pace with demand [is] due to the ageing of the power stations and the distribution networks, which is reflected in the high losses that are currently estimated at about 38%, well above the internationally prevailing levels. This situation prevents the full utilization of machinery and equipment in the different productive and service units, or burdens the private sector facilities with the cost of setting up their own generating plants, not to mention the inability to systematically fulfil domestic lighting requirements. This situation is expected to continue over the medium term due to the increase of demand at high rates, and thus increases the adverse aspects on investment opportunities and the growth of output, income and employment, clearly showing the importance of strategic investment by the private sector in this field.’

    In the industrial sector, power is purchased either from the national grid or off-grid from privately owned diesel generators with poor electrical efficiency ranging from 25% up to 35% especially in light industry. Heavy industry, e.g. the cement sector – the most energy intensive of any industry6, covers its heat needs using boilers fired either by heavy fuel oil or diesel, again with an overall poor fuel efficiency. The main electricity consuming sections in a cement plant are the mills (finish grinding and raw grinding) and the exhaust fans (kiln/raw mill and cement mill) which together account for more than 80% of the total electrical energy usage.7 The separate production of heat and power is an obvious waste of energy. Change is needed by using a range of existing and emerging technologies, particularly in relation to the production and consumption both of heat and electricity.

    The cement industry is considered as one of the main players in the industrial sector. Commercial production started back in 1973 with the launching of the first production line of the Bajil Cement Factory. Cement production is highly competitive, both locally and internationally, so any improvements in production efficiency can result in important increases in competitiveness.8

    Despite 16.9 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven natural gas reserves, a cleaner source of non-renewable energy, heavy fuel oil or diesel-fuelled power generation remains the energy source. Use of natural gas is hampered by the absence of a domestic natural gas infrastructure. On the downstream side there is a crude refining capacity of 130,000 barrels/day from two ageing refineries. The Aden refinery has a capacity of 90,000 to 120,000 barrels/day, while the capacity at the Marib refinery, is 10,000 barrels/day.

    So the challenge for the government is to meet the energy needs of the country in an economic and environmentally sustainable manner. To address this challenge, one approach is to integrate the use of CHP as part of a larger portfolio of low-carbon energy technology solutions. Also the First National Communication under the UNFCCC suggests CHP as a viable measure to reduce GHG emissions and to cope with climate change.

    COGENERATION – AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YEMEN

    The Yemeni electricity sector driven by fossil-fuelled power generation is characterized by a loss of waste heat and a deficient transmission and distribution system resulting in poor net generation. Energy use and efficiency are important factors for economic development and environmental integrity.

    CHP applications could be viable and cost-effective in the Yemeni setting because they:

    • reduce energy-related carbon dioxide emissions
    • provide a decentralized energy source which results in reduced investment in energy system infrastructure
    • reduce transmission and distribution losses.

    Energy-intensive industrial sites such as oil refining, heavy processing (food and textiles) and the cement industry with its simultaneous demand for heat and power, could all benefit. Also the commercial and institutional/residential sectors could match their thermal and electrical needs. CHP application in the commercial/institutional sector could address light manufacturing, hotels, hospitals and large office complexes.

    Despite good potential for CHP, to date no systems are operating in Yemen. The main barriers are: technical, financial, lack of maintenance capacity and awareness, the heavy subsidy of petroleum products and the absence of a domestic natural gas infrastructure – the fuel of choice for most new industrial CHP systems. However, access to reasonably priced and reliable electricity supply systems are an obvious prerequisite for economic stability and development. The development of a strategy for CHP would assist in kick-starting the momentum in Yemen and should include the following elements:

    • identification of projects that could be initially implemented by the public sector and identify pipeline of projects that can be promoted for private sector development
    • formulation of CHP-enabling market
    • elaboration of incentives that attract private investors and lower the costs of electricity generation from CHP applications.

    Coupling GHG emissions abatement with CHP installation would help guide the country’s economic growth to a less carbon-intensive development path. The emission reduction potential makes CHP applications, in principal, eligible for the CDM. In order to qualify for Certified Emission Reductions under the CDM, one needs to address ‘additionality’, ‘permanence’, and ‘leakage’ requirements as well as satisfy sustainable development criteria defined by the country. By gaining CDM support for projects, Yemen could gain access to significant additional flows of technology and finance to assist in achieving a more sustainable, less greenhouse-intensive pathway of development. Also the National Adaptation Programme of Action9 is suggesting CHP systems as an efficient method of power generation and a suitable measure to reduce GHG emissions. Considering a cogeneration project as a CDM project activity would assist in generating emission credits and thereby make the project more feasible.

    RECOMMENDATION AND CONCLUSION

    The CDM is a key model fostering broad engagement in climate change mitigation, and can be used as a means of promoting sustainable development by providing access to improved energy services. The energy sector is a major source of GHG emissions and a critical area for socio-economic development of the country. Yemen has a good potential for cogeneration projects in the industrial, commercial and institutional/residential sectors.

    In keeping with the dual aim of climate protection and sustainable development, the CDM can trigger the installation of CHP systems by removing barriers to implementation of state-of-the art technology in this area. Despite the strong potential of cogeneration for GHG reduction to date there is no installed capacity – project developers often lack the technical and financial capacity to identify projects within their operational activities. Mainstreaming carbon finance into business operations would have a catalytic impact on facilitating CDM project development and consequently assist in the feasibility of cogeneration in Yemen.

    Lia Carol Sieghart is with the Ministry of Water and Environment, DNA Secretariat, Republic of Yemen.
    e-mail: sieghart@yemen.net.ye

    References

    1. Status: 29.03.2008

    2. World Development Indicators database, World Bank, 1 July 2007

    3. Report No.: 34008-YE – Republic of Yemen – Country Social Analysis – January 11, 2006 – Water, Environment, Social and Rural Development Department, Middle East and North Africa Region

    4. Energy Information Administration  www.eia.doe.gov): Yemen – Country Analysis Brief (October 2007)

    5. World Bank and UNDP (2005): Household Energy Supply and Use in Yemen: Volume I, Main Report

    6. WADE (2007): Concrete Energy Savings – Onsite Power in the Cement Industry

    7. IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control). 2001. Reference document on best available techniques in the cement and lime manufacturing industries, European Union.

    8. WADE (2007): Concrete Energy Savings – Onsite Power in the Cement Industry

    9. 2001 First National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

    Cogeneration and On-Site Power Production July, 2008


    To access this article, go to:www.cospp.com/articles/article_display.cfm?ARTICLE_ID=338180&p=122

    Copyright © 2008: PennWell Corporation, Tulsa, OK; All Rights Reserved.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

WTO Talks Collapse: Was There Ever a Future for Bananas?
World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations collapsed today, July 29, after nine days of intense negotiations. Trade ministers from approximately 35 countries struggled to salvage the stalled seven-year-old Doha round. Optimistic signs and compromises surfaced as a result of last weekend’s supposed breakthrough, but these were soon followed by stubborn accusations from a number of combative nations, including the United States, China, and India. Constructing a 153-country consensus now seems even more cumbersome and talks will not resume for at least two years. During this past week in Geneva, country officials worked particularly long hours in an attempt to come up with the necessary concessions, as well as extending their stay in Switzerland in hopes of returning home “successfully.” Such a dream was, unfortunately, not to be realized.

This latest round of trade talks was launched in the Qatar capital in November 2001, but has long been stalemated over issues of farm subsidies called for by the U.S., Japan and the EU, as well as tariffs on industrial goods imposed by the developing economies of Latin America and Asia. Proposed changes included EU and U.S. farm subsidy reductions of up to 80 percent. The compromise was that developing countries would open their markets to imports of manufactured goods, removing so-called “import shields.”

In the deal last weekend, Latin American banana producers and EU officials appeared to begin the process of putting to rest a quarter-century banana “war.” Many Latin American banana exporters had contended for years that the EU routinely gave preferential treatment to their former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), and had kept import tariffs artificially high on the fruit that originates on mainland Latin America.

The complaint was originally filed by the U.S. because three of the largest banana producers in Latin America are U.S. multinational corporations. COHA repeatedly has argued in the past that U.S. banana companies, and not Latin American economies, are likely to benefit from the removal of the tariffs (see “Banana Wars Continue – Chiquita Once Again Tries to Work Its Omnipotent Will, Now Under New Management: Likely Big Losers Will Be CARICOM’s Windward Islands”). In addition to this contention, many view the present Doha round as an inappropriate forum for banana talk to occur in the first place, as any new arrangement could anger some of the ACP nations and thus would endanger the future of the round. Nonetheless, it is important for the banana conflict to be resolved so that Latin America, as well as U.S. corporations and English-speaking Caribbean exporters (who in most cases depend upon such exports for their economic survival), can see the benefits from the sale of their largest cash crop. Throughout the negotiations, it can be said that the U.S. was less than sensitive to the importance of a favorable outcome to such islands as Dominica, Grenada, and St. Lucia- a matter of sheer survival.



One of the main issues of contention amongst developing countries was the possible existence of Special Safeguard Mechanisms (SSM). This provision would enable countries like China and India to raise agricultural tariffs to protect their farmers in case of a surge in imports. Latin American countries rejected the SSM proposal, saying that it would be damaging to their export interests. Venezuelan Industry and Trade Minister William Antonio Contreras said that “we are not here to block an agreement, but to defend our interests and to fulfill the command of the round that is the one of developing.” The dispute over the existence of these mechanisms, designed to help only certain nations, largely contributed to the collapse of the talks.

It now should be clearer than ever as to why WTO talks have been at a stand still for so many years. It is not an enigma why it has been so difficult to achieve consensus with a myriad of players in the field with a lot to gain, but even more to lose. Lucrative deals for some nations can be devastating to others: WTO negotiations certainly have not proven to be a win-win game.

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associates Revaz Ardesher and Jessica Wayne
July 29th, 2008 COHA is the Washington Based Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

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WTO Talks Collapse Amidst Developing Countries’ Reluctance to Sacrifice Food Security.
Tuesday 29 July 2008

Opinion from – The Center for Economic and Policy Research.             {The Center for Economic and Policy Research is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that was established to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. CEPR’s Advisory Board of Economists includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz; Richard Freeman, professor of economics at Harvard University; and Eileen Appelbaum, professor and director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University. }

Indian women farm laborers plant rice. India and other developing nations are reluctant to sacrifice food security measures during World Trade Organization negotiations.

  Last-minute attempt to push through a WTO expansion “deal” fails.
Washington, DC – Despite trade ministers’ hopes for a last-minute deal, World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations collapsed yet again today, and observers at the talks in Geneva say that the failure is not surprising, given the reluctance of India and other developing nations to sacrifice food security measures in the wake of the recent global spike in food prices.
Given President Bush’s lame duck status, negotiators had been called to Geneva to try to push through a last-minute deal before Bush left office. Because negotiators need about six months after a deal on the major issues to complete the details of the agreement, this possibility has now evaporated.

“Given what’s been on the table, no deal is better than a bad deal. A Doha conclusion would have had major negative impacts for workers and farmers in developing countries. The tariff cuts demanded of developing countries would have caused massive job loss, and countries would have lost the ability to protect farmers from dumping, further impoverishing millions on the verge of survival,” said Deborah James, Director of International Programs for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who has been observing the talks in Geneva.

  It is unclear why negotiations were proceeding, given the fact that the U.S. delegation does not have a mandate to conclude negotiations, as made clear by a letter from Senators Feingold and Byrd sent to President Bush last week. In addition, cuts in subsidies agreed to by the U.S. are also incompatible with the new U.S. Farm Bill passed by Congress, and over-riding a veto by President Bush.
Many developing nations not invited to participate in the exclusive “Green Room” meetings in Geneva this past week are likely to continue strong opposition to a deal in the midst of a global economic downturn and increasing concerns over food security.

  At a time when many countries are seeking to reduce dependence on troubled economies in the U.S. and Europe, and as fears of a global recession loom, many nations are questioning the development gains to be achieved from trade liberalization. The projected gains from the Doha Round offer developing countries very little in potential gains. According to World Bank modeling, developing country benefits would be just 16 percent of total world gains, or 0.16 per cent of GDP. This works out to less than a penny per day per capita in the developing world. Poverty reduction – which in itself would be very limited – would reach only 2.5 million people.[1] These projections do not include many of the costs of implementing the Doha Round, which UNCTAD estimates to be as much as four times the projected gains.
The Doha Round could also increase world prices for food.[2] Since most developing countries are net food importers, the recent increase in food prices has led some developing country governments to reconsider food security mechanisms such as tariffs and domestic subsidies, which the WTO seeks to reduce. A number of countries have also imposed restrictions on exports, in response to the food crisis.
“There just hasn’t been much to gain for developing countries in this round – or for that matter, the majority of people even in the rich countries,” said CEPR Co-Director and economist, Mark Weisbrot. “The attempts by the rich countries to reduce policy space for developing countries in manufacturing are widely seen as ‘kicking away the ladder’ that rich countries like the United States used when they were developing countries.
  “The whole process of subordinating national policy to special commercial interests – whether in agriculture, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals (one of the most powerful interests and gainers in the WTO), or the financial sector – has gone way too far. Growth and development in most countries has been hurt, and they are pushing back. In the United States, too, rising inequality and now an economic downturn have provoked a backlash.”


Throughout the negotiations, some developing nations promoted trade policies and objectives at odds with the Doha Round’s objectives of opening developing country markets, including commitments to food sovereignty and defending policy space for alternative forms of economic development.

In a written statement, Bolivian president Evo Morales said that, “The WTO negotiations have turned into a fight by developed countries to open markets in developing countries to favor their big companies.”
[1] Kevin P. Gallagher and Timothy A. Wise, “Back to the Drawing Board: No Basis for Concluding the Doha Round of Negotiations.” Research and Information System for Developing Countries Issue Brief. No. 36, April 2008.
[2] Sandra Polaski, “Winners and Losers: Impact of the Doha Round on Developing Countries.” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 2006.
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www.SustainabiliTank.info does not accept that this was just about bananas – we just posted the case of the airline industry that would have come under the services end of the World Trade Agreement.

A WTO was supposed to balance global trade so that everyone has to get something out of this, but when those that have neither the money, nor the fuel, have to do something to benefit interests that are placed in position to hurt them even more – so better put up barriers to harming trade. For some this means close in your agriculture, but we just pointed at some that would be better off if they closed in their airtransport -this just as an example. So let us be blunt here – the US would be completely in its right now to put an extra “oil-cost-tax” on the National airlines of the oil-states. With an end to the running-around-Doha exercize there is no reason why the US should not do this to help its airlines.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Today’s News are full with the woes of private airlines. “Fuel Prices hurt Ryanair and Shares Tumble 25%;” “Airport Lounges are the latest casualty of the current crisis in the airline industry;” “Delta will charge for the second suitcase;” but Emirates is introducing showers to its first class passengers.

The point is that Emirates and other government owned oil-state airlines benefit from clear subsidy of their fuel costs thus undermining air-transport competition. DOHA happens to be in such a State and DOHA is the keyword for ongoing trade negotiations that include also services – and air transport is these days a main service. We know that when you are dependent on the power that has the cash, and also happens to have the fuel that your country is addicted to – you may not have the stomach for true negotiations.

The DOHA round, supposedly is stuck on agriculture – but what about transport – be it air transport loke in the case of “Emirates” or maritime transport like in the case of Norway – will the negotiators on world trade step up now to an honest witness stand? That is the Question in our present posting.

As Most Airlines Struggle, Middle East Carriers Are Expanding.
By CAROLINE BROTHERS, Published: July 29, 2008, The New York Times.

HAMBURG — As carriers from American Airlines to Thai Airway International respond to high oil prices by shedding jobs, culling routes and grounding aircraft, Middle Eastern carriers are expanding as fast as they can in hopes of redefining their region as the aviation crossroads of the globe.

“There is no sign of a crisis there,” said Thomas O. Enders, the chief executive of Airbus, in an interview on Monday shortly before handing over a new A380 jet to the chairman of Emirates, Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum. “These airlines are on a very impressive growth path and expansion course.”

Emirates, which in 2000 became the first customer to sign a firm commitment to buy A380s, has since increased its order more than eightfold to 58 planes. At Monday’s ceremonial delivery, Sheik Ahmed signed a letter of intent for an additional 60 Airbus jets with a total price tag of $13.3 billion: 30 wide-bodied A330 planes and 30 of the A350s that are still under development.

The technological capacity of new-generation aircraft like the Airbus A380 allows gulf states to leverage their geographical position as a crossroads, putting 80 percent of the world’s most attractive markets, like India and China, within reach of nonstop flights.

Tim Clark, president of Emirates, said that from the start, the airline had focused on Dubai’s central location. The aim was to link places that were not already linked, like Africa and China, or Russia and South Africa, Mr. Clark said.

The Middle East is pouring $54 billion into airport expansion over the next decade, according to the International Air Transport Association, and airlines in the region have ordered 700 planes at a cost of $140 billion over the last three years.

“The size of our order mirrors the rising prominence of the Middle East and its increasing emergence as a new focal point of global aviation,” said James Hogan, the chief executive of Etihad, an airline based in the region that ordered 100 aircraft in July, including 10 Airbus A380s.

The big Emirates order for the superjumbos — which would be able to compete with low-cost carriers if configured for 750 passengers in economy class — might sound like a recipe for overcapacity. But so far, airlines in the gulf have done well in matching demand, which grew 11 percent in the first five months of this year, with capacity that rose 11.1 percent, according to the transport association.

Furthermore, the gulf airlines are mining fast-growing routes. Passenger traffic between the Middle East and Africa rose 19.8 percent in the five months to June this year, and 14 percent between the Middle East and Far East, though from a low base, the association said. That compares with average growth of 4.5 percent for all international routes.

The Middle Eastern carriers are also running a tight ship. During the five months to May, the load factor, or percentage of available seats sold, on the region’s airlines was 74.6, according to association figures, in line with a “high” global average of 75.2.

The level means that Middle Eastern airlines are flying as full as their rivals and suggests that they are not emptying their competitors’ planes.

But over the longer run, aviation experts said, airlines like Emirates, which compete on price for the mass market and on service for business travelers, should make some inroads against competitors.

The A380 that Sheik Ahmed received Monday represents a crucial element of a business strategy that makes the Middle Eastern airlines “a competitive threat to any European-based carrier,” according to Daniel Solon, an independent aviation consultant based in Barcelona.

The technological advances of the A380 mean that it can fly more passengers farther and for less money than their competitors.

In eight capitals on the Indian subcontinent, Emirates already offers travelers to the United States a chance to change planes in Dubai as an alternative to congested European airports.

Industry executives say that the gulf region would also be a well-positioned hub for traffic from China to Africa, while Emirates’ services between Europe and Australia mean that passengers can bypass Asia altogether.

“The capability of airlines has changed the reach of the gulf region,” said Chris Tarry, an analyst at Ctaira, a British aviation consulting firm. “If you’ve got planes that can fly farther, you change the structure of the market.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 28th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From:  rcervigni at worldbank.org
Subject: Climate Change in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) – New World Bank web site.
Date: June 27, 2008

We are pleased to announce the launch of the World Bank web site on climate change in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA).

The site contains information on ongoing and planned World Bank activities aimed at helping MENA countries enhance their resilience to Climate Change, and move to a low carbon development path.

The URL for the site is: www.worldbank.org/mena/climatecha…

Raffaello Cervigni
Senior Natural Resource Economist
Regional Coordinator, Climate Change
Sustainable Development Sector Department (MNSSD)
Middle East and North Africa Region
The World Bank
Room H 8-225
1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington D.C. 20433 USA
Office: 202 458 8473
Fax: 202 614 1688
Cell Phone: 202 378 4432
E-mail:  rcervigni at worldbank.org

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