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Abu DhabiDubai

The United Arab Emirates are structured in a framework of a federal,
presidential, elective, monarchy. The UAE is a federation of seven
absolute monarchies – the emirates of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah,
Sharjah, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Qaiwain, and the President
of the UAE is its head of state, and the Prime Minister of the UAE is
head of government.
The Federal Supreme Council is composed of all seven emirs. It elects
the president, vice president, members of the Council of Ministers,
and judges of the Federal Supreme Court. The emir of Abu Dhabi holds
the presidency and vice-presidency, and the emir of Dubai is prime
minister. Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah chose not to belong to the federal
judiciary and all emirates have their own secular and Islamic law for
civil, criminal, and high courts.


 
UAE:

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Death of an American ‘Infidel’ in Abu Dhabi

by Phyllis Chesler
Breitbart, December 4, 2014

The point of such terrorist intimidation … [is] to make life unlivable, unbearable, so that the infidel will either convert to jihadist Islamism or leave Muslim lands.

Ibolya Ryan, an American schoolteacher and mother of two, was stabbed to death in Abu Dhabi on December 1.

On December 1st, a figure in a black burqa, armed with an eight-inch knife, entered the upscale Boutik shopping mall located in Reem Island, the neighborhood where most of Abu Dhabi’s 40,000 expatriates live.

The black burqa’ed figure waited for more than an hour in a woman’s toilet—then stabbed the first white blonde infidel American woman who came in to use the facilities six times until she was dead. Then, with the possible help of two other women, the mysterious black burqa’ed figure either smoothly and calmly walked away, or did so in a frenzied fashion (there are conflicting eye witness reports about this). In any event, the killer entered an elevator and disappeared.

The victim’s name was Ibolya Ryan. She was a Hungarian-born and Romanian-raised kindergarten teacher and the divorced mother of two 11 year-old twin boys, Adam and Aiden. Her former husband lives in Colorado. Ryan had described herself in an online profile for a teacher-recruiting company as “Romanian born” and someone who has worked “in four countries over the last 15 years.” Ryan wanted to “experience the Arab world…their culture and daily life.”

Tragically, she has done just that. At a time of fierce Islamic fundamentalist jihad, Ibolya, a civilian, may have been targeted by jihadists. In the wake of an anonymous posting on a jihadist site that encouraged attacks on American teachers in the Middle East, the U.S. embassy in Abu Dhabi, UAE posted an October 29 security warning for U.S. citizens, especially “teachers at international schools.” This included the following:

Avoid crowds or large gatherings when traveling in public; Identify safe areas (for example police stations, hospitals) in your area and how to get to them quickly; Tell co-workers or neighbors where you are going and when you intend to return; Minimize your profile while in public; Always carry a cellphone…; Be prepared to postpone or cancel activities for personal safety concerns.

In other words: Live vigilantly, live fearfully, live indoors as much as possible and have as little contact with strangers, especially with Arab Muslim strangers, as possible.

This is no way to live. But that is the point of such terrorist intimidation– namely, to make life unlivable, unbearable, so that the infidel will either convert to jihadist Islamism or leave Muslim lands.

On the other hand, the UAE is a strong ally of the United States. Every state in the United States exports to the UAE and more than 1000 American firms have an on-the-ground presence. Strategic American and UAE alliances exist in terms of oil, medical, and military equipment and personnel—but most important, perhaps, is the fact that the UAE “was the first country to support the United States at the advent of Desert Storm; the only Arab country to participate with the US in five coalition actions over the last 20 years: Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Bosnia-Kosovo, and the First Gulf War.”

More importantly, the UAE supports and enforces UN sanctions to contain Iranian nuclear weapons capabilities and, since mid-September of this year, “the UAE has flown dozens of missions against ISIL targets.”

The murder of Ibolya Ryan might also have been a targeted message to the governments of both the UAE and the United States, one that hoped to destroy their relationship in terms of the ongoing joint fight against the most barbaric forms of Islamic fundamentalism.

Jihadists wish to intimidate Americans abroad in Muslim countries so that they move back to America. But jihadists also wish to punish any individual Muslim or Muslim country for daring to work with infidels against Islamic fundamentalists. How this intimidation is handled, both by individuals and by governments, is bound to affect the course of the war between civilization and barbarism.

Phyllis Chesler, an emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies and the author of fifteen books, is a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Jihadi Connection between Sinai, Gaza and Islamic State.

by Jonathan Spyer
The Jerusalem Post
November 1, 2014

There is a burgeoning and violent salafi jihadist subculture that encompasses northern Sinai and southern Gaza.

 www.meforum.org/4876/the-jihadi-c…

What kind of relations do the jihadists of northern Sinai and Gaza have with Islamic State, and with Hamas? Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared a three-month national emergency this week, following the killing of over 31 Egyptian soldiers in a suicide car bombing carried out by jihadists in northern Sinai.

No organization has issued an authoritative claim of responsibility for the bombing, but it comes amid a state of open insurgency in northern Sinai, as Egyptian security forces battle a number of jihadist organizations. Most prominent among these groups are Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen; the attack on the Sinai military base came a few days after an Egyptian court sentenced seven members of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis to death for carrying out previous attacks on the army.

In subsequent days, Egyptian officials pointed an accusing finger at the Hamas rulers of Gaza, asserting there is “no doubt that elements belonging to Palestinian factions were directly involved in the attack.” Cairo is now set to build a new barrier separating the Strip from northern Sinai.

In a number of Arabic media outlets, unnamed Egyptian government sources openly accused Hamas members of aiding the assault, assisting with planning, funding and weapons supply.

Are the Egyptian claims credible? Are there links between Hamas or smaller jihadist movements in the Gaza Strip and the insurgents in northern Sinai? And no less importantly, is the armed campaign in northern Sinai linked to Islamic State? First, it is important to understand that jihadist activity in northern Sinai is not a new development. Long before the military coup of July 3, 2013, and indeed before the downfall of president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, this area had become a lawless zone in which jihadists and Beduin smugglers of people and goods carried out their activities.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis emerged from this already existing jihadist milieu in the period following Mubarak’s ouster.

At this time, Egyptian security measures in the area sharply declined.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has not confined its activities to the Sinai area; rather, it has directly engaged in attacks on Israeli targets. Recently, the group beheaded four Sinai locals who it accused of being “spies for the Mossad,” also carrying out two rocket attacks on Eilat this past January.

The claim of links between Hamas and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has been raised in the past. In September, Egyptian security forces claimed to have found uniforms and weaponry identifiable as belonging to Hamas’s Izzadin Kassam brigades.

It is worth remembering that the current Egyptian government has, since its inception, sought to link salafi jihadist terrorism with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as part of its strategy of marginalizing and criminalizing the Brotherhood.

The current statements seeking to link Hamas directly to Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis may form part of this larger strategy.

For its part, Hamas indignantly denies any link to this week’s bombing.

But what can be said with greater confidence is there is, without doubt, a burgeoning and violent salafi jihadist subculture that encompasses northern Sinai and southern Gaza – with various organizations possessing members and infrastructure on both sides of the border.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis itself and Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen both have members in Sinai and Gaza. Working tunnels smuggling goods and weapons exist between Gaza and northern Sinai, despite Egyptian attempts to destroy them.

It is also a fact that Hamas is aware of these tunnels and makes no attempt to act against them, benefiting economically from their presence.

From this standpoint, Hamas authorities in Gaza are guilty by omission of failing to act against the infrastructure supplying and supporting salafi guerrillas in northern Sinai, whether or not the less verifiable claims of direct Hamas links with them have a basis.

Given this reality, it is also not hard to understand the Egyptian determination to build an effective physical barrier between the Strip and Egyptian territory.

What of the issue of support for Islamic State? Should these jihadist groups be seen as a southern manifestation of the Sunni jihadist wave now sweeping across Iraq, Syria and increasingly, Lebanon? From an ideological point of view, certainly yes.

From an organizational point of view, the situation is more complex.

According to Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, an expert on jihadist groups currently based at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and the Middle East Forum, neither Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis nor Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen have formally pledged their allegiance to the caliphate established by Islamic State in parts of Iraq and Syria.

Nevertheless, Tamimi confirmed, both organizations have expressed “support” for Islamic State and its objectives, while not subordinating themselves to it through a pledge of allegiance.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is known to maintain contacts with Islamic State, which has advised it on the mechanics of carrying out operations. Islamic State, meanwhile, has publicly declared its support for the jihadists in northern Sinai, without singling out any specific group for public support.

Tamimi further notes the existence of two smaller and more obscure groups in Gaza with more direct links to Islamic State.

These are Jamaat Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Bayt al-Maqdis (The Group of Helpers/ Supporters of the Islamic State in Bayt al-Maqdis), which carries out propaganda activities from Gaza and helps funnel volunteers to Syria and Iraq, and the Sheikh Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi Battalion, a Gazan contingent fighting with Islamic State in these countries.

So, a number of conclusions can be drawn: Firstly, Hamas, in its tolerance of and engagement with smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Sinai, at least indirectly permits the jihadists networks operating these tunnels to wage their insurgency against Egypt – even if the claims of a direct Hamas link to violent activities in Sinai have not yet been conclusively proven.

Secondly, the most important organizations engaged in this insurgency support Islamic State, and are supported by them, though the former have not yet pledged allegiance and become directly subordinate to the latter.

Islamic State is not yet in northern Sinai, but its close allies are. Their activities are tolerated by the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip – as long as they are directed outward, against Egypt and Israel.

————————–
Jonathan Spyer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Our original posting date was September 25, 2011, and we do this re-posting because we were just reminded of the article by a comment I received from India from seemingly a non-political person. We wonder ourselves if that article is still relevant after this week’s events at the UN, and on the eve of a new meeting today in Washington between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

—————————————————————————————–

THE LINK IS HERE AND YOU CAN READ IT BUT NOT COPY IT:
 www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.as…

of September 25, 2011.

MENAFN – stands for Middle East North Africa – read ARAB  Financial Network – it is   a Delaware-based corporation with a wholly owned subsidiary in Amman, Jordan.

So, it must be an American Oil Industry enterprise, probably close to the Republican party,  with a Jordanian address as well.

The site [www.menafn.com] offers regional and global business content in both Arabic and English. It attracts over 340,000 highly targeted visitors on a regular basis.

It has a weekly e-Newsletter that reaches 55,000 subscribers. It summarizes major business news and events, market data and research for the Middle East region and the globe.

We hope that our readers in the Arab world see this posting of ours on www.SustainabiliTank.info so they understand the depth of the hole their leaders have dug for the Arab world. There is no way to bitch about Israel – if you are not ready to acknowledge the Israelis that try to find a way to peace. You will not have peace if you do not recognize Israel.
If some business interest thinks they can profit from the state of war the time has come that the Arab World distances itself from them.

——————————-

BUT THE ARTICLE IS AS FOLLOWS – AND WE GOT IT FROM URI AVNERY HIMSELF.

WHY DID MENAFN NOT POST THAT ARTICLE AS ORIGINALLY POSTED?  - THEY TOOK IT VERBATIM FROM AVNERY AND DID NOT MENTION HIM –  NEITHER DID THEY SAY  THAT AVNERY, – OR AT LEAST “THE WRITER” –  IS AN ISRAELI.  THIS SHORTCOMING POSES BIG QUESTION ON THE CREDIBILITY OF THIS MENA – MIDDLE EAST NORTH AFRICA – READ ARAB – FINANCIAL REPORT.

THIS REMINDS US OF THE ARAB SPRING, TAHRIR SQUARE,  LEADER WHOM I ASKED IN VIENNA, BEFORE AN AUDIENCE  - IF AN ISRAELI LIKE URI AVNERY APPROACHES YOU WOULD YOU OUTSTRETCH YOUR HAND IN PEACE?  SHE ANSWERED FLATLY – “NO! HE IS A ZIONIST.”

THIS IS THE REAL DOWNFALL OF THE ARAB WORLD – AND IN NO WAY CAN I HAVE SYMPATHY FOR SUCH HYPOCRASY.

WHY DID NOT THIS MENAFN ACKNOWLEDGE URI AVNERY? WHY DID THEY NOT HAVE THE GUTS TO SAY – WELCOME ABOARD – HERE YOU ARE THE ISRAELI WE WANT TO TALK TO.  IN THE LIGHT OF THIS LACK OF HONESTY AND LACK OF COURAGE  -  I THINJK NOW THAT URI AVNERY HAS INDEED GOOD REASON TO RETHINK HIS NOBLE VIEWS.

————————–

Uri Avnery

September 24, 2011

Abu Mazen’s Gamble

A WONDERFUL SPEECH. A beautiful speech.

The language expressive and elegant. The arguments clear and convincing. The delivery flawless.

A work of art. The art of hypocrisy. Almost every statement in the passage concerning the Israeli-Palestinian issue was a lie. A blatant lie: the speaker knew it was a lie, and so did the audience.

It was Obama at his best, Obama at his worst.

Being a moral person, he must have felt the urge to vomit. Being a pragmatic person, he knew that he had to do it, if he wanted to be re-elected.

In essence, he sold the fundamental national interests of the United States of America for the chance of a second term.

Not very nice, but that’s politics, OK?

IT MAY be superfluous – almost insulting to the reader – to point out the mendacious details of this rhetorical edifice.

Obama treated the two sides as if they were equal in strength – Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians and Israelis.

But of the two, it is the Israelis – only they – who suffer and have suffered. Persecution. Exile. Holocaust. An Israeli child threatened by rockets. Surrounded by the hatred of Arab children. So sad.

No Occupation. No settlements. No June 1967 borders. No Naqba. No Palestinian children killed or frightened. It’s the straight right-wing Israeli propaganda line, pure and simple – the terminology, the historical narrative, the argumentation. The music.

The Palestinians, of course, should have a state of their own. Sure, sure. But they must not be pushy. They must not embarrass the US. They must not come to the UN. They must sit with the Israelis, like reasonable people, and work it out with them. The reasonable sheep must sit down with the reasonable wolf and decide what to have for dinner. Foreigners should not interfere.

Obama gave full service. A lady who provides this kind of service generally gets paid in advance. Obama got paid immediately afterwards, within the hour. Netanyahu sat down with him in front of the cameras and gave him enough quotable professions of love and gratitude to last for several election campaigns.

THE TRAGIC hero of this affair is Mahmoud Abbas. A tragic hero, but a hero nonetheless.

Many people may be surprised by this sudden emergence of Abbas as a daring player for high stakes, ready to confront the mighty US.

If Ariel Sharon were to wake up for a moment from his years-long coma, he would faint with amazement. It was he who called Mahmoud Abbas “a plucked chicken”.

Yet for the last few days, Abbas was the center of global attention. World leaders conferred about how to handle him, senior diplomats were eager to convince him of this or that course of action, commentators were guessing what he would do next. His speech before the UN General Assembly was treated as an event of consequence.

Not bad for a chicken, even for one with a full set of feathers.

His emergence as a leader on the world stage is somewhat reminiscent of Anwar Sadat.

When Gamal Abd-al-Nasser unexpectedly died at the age of 52 in 1970 and his official deputy, Sadat, assumed his mantle, all political experts shrugged.

Sadat? Who the hell is that? He was considered a nonentity, an eternal No. 2, one of the least important members of the group of “free officers” that was ruling Egypt.

In Egypt, a land of jokes and jokers, witticisms about him abounded. One concerned the prominent brown mark on his forehead. The official version was that it was the result of much praying, hitting the ground with his forehead. But the real reason, it was told, was that at meetings, after everyone else had spoken, Sadat would get up and try to say something. Nasser would good-naturedly put his finger to his forehead, push him gently down and say: “Sit, Anwar!”

To the utter amazement of the experts – and especially the Israeli ones – this “nonentity” took a huge gamble by starting the 1973 October War, and proceeded to do something unprecedented in history: going to the capital of an enemy country still officially in a state of war and making peace.

Abbas’ status under Yasser Arafat was not unlike Sadat’s under Nasser. However, Arafat never appointed a deputy. Abbas was one of a group of four or five likely successors. The heir would surely have been Abu Jihad, had he not been killed by Israeli commandoes in front of his wife and children. Another likely candidate, Abu Iyad, was killed by Palestinian terrorists. Abu Mazen (Abbas) was in a way the choice by default.

Such politicians, emerging suddenly from under the shadow of a great leader, generally fall into one of two categories: the eternal frustrated No. 2 or the surprising new leader.

The Bible gives us examples of both kinds. The first was Rehoboam, the son and heir of the great King Solomon, who told his people: “my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions”. The other kind was represented by Joshua, the heir of Moses. He was no second Moses, but according to the story a great conqueror in his own right.

Modern history tells the sad story of Anthony Eden, the long-suffering No. 2 of Winston Churchill, who commanded little respect. (Mussolini called him, after their first meeting, “a well-tailored idiot.”). Upon assuming power, he tried desperately to equal Churchill and soon embroiled Britain in the 1956 Suez disaster. To the second category belonged Harry Truman, the nobody who succeeded the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt and surprised everybody as a resolute leader.

Abbas looked like belonging to the first kind. Now, suddenly, he is revealed as belonging to the second. The world is treating him with newfound respect. Nearing the end of his career, he made the big gamble.

BUT WAS it wise? Courageous, yes. Daring, yes. But wise?

My answer is: Yes, it was.

Abbas has placed the quest for Palestinian freedom squarely on the international table. For more than a week, Palestine has been the center of international attention. Scores of international statesmen and -women, including the leader of the world’s only superpower, have been busy with Palestine.

For a national movement, that is of the utmost importance. Cynics may ask: “So what did they gain from it?” But cynics are fools. A liberation movement gains from the very fact that the world pays attention, that the media grapple with the problem, that people of conscience all over the world are aroused. It strengthens morale at home and brings the struggle a step nearer its goal.

Oppression shuns the limelight. Occupation, settlements, ethnic cleansing thrive in the shadows. It is the oppressed who need the light of day. Abbas’ move provided it, at least for the time being.

BARACK OBAMA’s miserable performance was a nail in the coffin of America’s status as a superpower. In a way, it was a crime against the United States.

The Arab Spring may have been a last chance for the US to recover its standing in the Middle East. After some hesitation, Obama realized that. He called on Mubarak to go, helped the Libyans against their tyrant, made some noises about Bashar al-Assad. He knows that he has to regain the respect of the Arab masses if he wants to recover some stature in the region, and by extension throughout the world.

Now he has blown it, perhaps forever. No self-respecting Arab will forgive him for plunging his knife into the back of the helpless Palestinians. All the credit the US has tried to gain in the last months in the Arab and the wider Muslim world has been blown away with one puff.

All for reelection.

IT WAS also a crime against Israel.

Israel needs peace. Israel needs to live side by side with the Palestinian people, within the Arab world. Israel cannot rely forever on the unconditional support of the declining United States.

Obama knows this full well. He knows what is good for Israel, even if Netanyahu doesn’t. Yet he has handed the keys of the car to the drunken driver.

The State of Palestine will come into being. This week it was already clear that this is unavoidable. Obama will be forgotten, as will Netanyahu, Lieberman and the whole bunch.

Mahmoud Abbas – Abu Mazen, as the Palestinians call him – will be remembered. The “plucked chicken” is soaring into the sky.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Middle East

Can the Middle East Redraw Itself?

 

11

 

Amre Moussa, the former Arab League head from Egypt, is calling for a Middle Eastern equivalent of the 1814 Congress of Vienna, in which Europe’s great powers established a new order to prevent wars between empires following the defeat of Napoleon. Admittedly, Moussa quickly backtracked to say the plan couldn’t initially include Iran, Turkey or Israel, making it really just another Arab League meeting. Still, I think he’s onto something.

For years, the people of the Middle East have complained that the U.S. and Europe treat it as a kind of colonial playground, while the West has moaned the region must take more responsibility to regulate and provide security for itself. This week, reports of United Arab Emirates airstrikes in Libya, launched from airstrips in Egypt, suggest that is beginning to happen — but in precisely the wrong way. The airstrikes pit the more secular client of one Persian Gulf state, UAE, against Islamists supported by another, Qatar.

This is a recipe for a long and bloody civil war in Libya, at a time when the Middle East is imploding and the U.S. is no longer willing or able to police it alone. Divisions among the Sunni states and an expanding proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia have already resulted in a vortex of human suffering and instability in Syria that has spawned the Islamic State.

So Moussa’s idea of a congress “emanating from the Middle East” itself, rather than from the U.S. or Europe, and focused on how to ensure stability in the region makes sense. As a model, the Congress of Vienna has an attractive echo for the Middle East’s monarchies and dictators, as it was designed mainly by conservative autocrats as they sought ways to contain the subversive republican fervor unleashed by the French revolution. Old regime leaders in the Middle East see the Arab Spring in much the same light.

“We are talking about a major change in the Middle East,” Moussa said at a conference I’m attending this week in Salzburg, Austria, on lessons to be drawn from the Vienna Congress and the outbreak of World War I, hosted by the International Peace Institute and the Salzburg Global Seminar. “We have to discuss this like grownups: What are we going to do when this wave of change comes to its end?”

The Congress of Vienna was also used to redraw the map of Europe after the Napoleonic wars, and then fix borders and establish a mechanism to agree on changes. In this light, Moussa was adamant that proposals to break up Iraq along sectarian lines would be infectious and disastrous for the region. A deal in in which the likes of Iran and Saudi Arabia guaranteed the non-violation of borders is appealing.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical. For one thing, Iran and Saudi Arabia are involved in what they see as a zero-sum contest for power, and a meaningful agreement between them seems fantastical: The empires of Europe were driven to reconciliation only after nearly 20 years of defeats forced them to learn the value of alliance. Indeed, while Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki al-Faisal, also in Salzburg, supported Moussa’s idea, his focus was on how to create a united Arab front toward Iran — a poor starting point if the goal is to reconcile Iranian and Saudi interests

So long as the focus is on getting the Arab house in order, this is unlikely to get anywhere. A more serious attempt would focus not on Arab identity but on who needs to be at the table so that any deal that is reached would be meaningful. At a minimum, that means Iran, Israel and Turkey must be present. Inviting the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to facilitate and hold the ring would also be smart. It’s crazy, and it’s worth a try.

 

To contact the author: Marc Champion at  Bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Tobin Harshaw at  bloomberg.net

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

An Israel Without Illusions

David Grossman: Stop the Grindstone of Israeli-Palestinian Violence.

By DAVID GROSSMAN – JULY 27, 2014

First published in Hebrew by HAARETZ, then picked up in translation by the New York Times.

David Grossman is an Israeli intellectual who is a bereaved father having lost a son in the Lebanon War. He does not mention this in the article as probably his intention is to speak to our minds with clear logic – not the softness of feelings. His article ought to be available to all, and not turned by media owners into hot property as both – Haaretz and The New York Times – try to do when pushing on the interested reader the notion that if they want to read this they have to become members of the exclusive club of subscribers to that paper. The NYT is now down to peddle a subscription limited to their Opinion pages.   I wonder, if asked, David Grossman would say that he wants no money for this article?

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

 

JERUSALEM —  Israelis and Palestinians are imprisoned in what seems increasingly like a hermetically sealed bubble. Over the years, inside this bubble, each side has evolved sophisticated justifications for every act it commits.

Israel can rightly claim that no country in the world would abstain from responding to incessant attacks like those of Hamas, or to the threat posed by the tunnels dug from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Hamas, conversely, justifies its attacks on Israel by arguing that the Palestinians are still under occupation and that residents of Gaza are withering away under the blockade enforced by Israel.

Inside the bubble, who can fault Israelis for expecting their government to do everything it can to save children on the Nahal Oz kibbutz, or any of the other communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip, from a Hamas unit that might emerge from a hole in the ground? And what is the response to Gazans who say that the tunnels and rockets are their only remaining weapons against a powerful Israel? In this cruel and desperate bubble, both sides are right. They both obey the law of the bubble — the law of violence and war, revenge and hatred.

But the big question, as war rages on, is not about the horrors occurring every day inside the bubble, but rather it is this: How on earth can it be that we have been suffocating together inside this bubble for over a century? This question, for me, is the crux of the latest bloody cycle.

Since I cannot ask Hamas, nor do I purport to understand its way of thinking, I ask the leaders of my own country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his predecessors: How could you have wasted the years since the last conflict without initiating dialogue, without even making the slightest gesture toward dialogue with Hamas, without attempting to change our explosive reality? Why, for these past few years, has Israel avoided judicious negotiations with the moderate and more conversable sectors of the Palestinian people — an act that could also have served to pressure Hamas? Why have you ignored, for 12 years, the Arab League initiative that could have enlisted moderate Arab states with the power to impose, perhaps, a compromise on Hamas? In other words: Why is it that Israeli governments have been incapable, for decades, of thinking outside the bubble?

And yet the current round between Israel and Gaza is somehow different. Beyond the pugnacity of a few politicians fanning the flames of war, behind the great show of “unity” — in part authentic, mostly manipulative — something about this war is managing, I think, to direct many Israelis’ attention toward the mechanism that lies at the foundation of the vain and deadly repetitive “situation.” Many Israelis who have refused to acknowledge the state of affairs are now looking into the futile cycle of violence, revenge and counter-revenge, and they are seeing our reflection: a clear, unadorned image of Israel as a brilliantly creative, inventive, audacious state that for over a century has been circling the grindstone of a conflict that could have been resolved years ago.

If we put aside for a moment the rationales we use to buttress ourselves against simple human compassion toward the multitude of Palestinians whose lives have been shattered in this war, perhaps we will be able to see them, too, as they trudge around the grindstone right beside us, in tandem, in endless blind circles, in numbing despair.

I do not know what the Palestinians, including Gazans, really think at this moment. But I do have a sense that Israel is growing up. Sadly, painfully, gnashing its teeth, but nonetheless maturing — or, rather, being forced to. Despite the belligerent declarations of hotheaded politicians and pundits, beyond the violent onslaught of right-wing thugs against anyone whose opinion differs from theirs, the main artery of the Israeli public is gaining sobriety.

The left is increasingly aware of the potent hatred against Israel — a hatred that arises not just from the occupation — and of the Islamic fundamentalist volcano that threatens the country. It also recognizes the fragility of any agreement that might be reached here. More people on the left understand now that the right wing’s fears are not mere paranoia, that they address a real and crucial threat.

I would hope that on the right, too, there is now greater recognition — even if it is accompanied by anger and frustration — of the limits of force; of the fact that even a powerful country like ours cannot simply act as it wishes; and that in the age we live in there are no unequivocal victories, only an illusory “image of victory” through which we can easily see the truth: that in war there are only losers.

There is no military solution to the real anguish of the Palestinian people, and as long as the suffocation felt in Gaza is not alleviated, we in Israel will not be able to breathe freely either.

Israelis have known this for decades, and for decades we have refused to truly comprehend it. But perhaps this time we understand a little better; perhaps we have caught a glimpse of the reality of our lives from a slightly different angle. It is a painful understanding, and a threatening one, certainly, but it is an understanding that could be the start of a shift. It might bring home for Israelis how critical and urgent peace with the Palestinians is, and how it can also be a basis for peace with the other Arab states. It may portray peace — such a disparaged concept here these days — as the best option, and the most secure one, available to Israel.

Will a similar comprehension emerge on the other side, in Hamas?

I have no way of knowing. But the Palestinian majority, represented by Mahmoud Abbas, has already decided in favor of negotiation and against terrorism. Will the government of Israel, after this bloody war, after losing so many young and beloved people, continue to avoid at least trying this option? Will it continue to ignore Mr. Abbas as an essential component to any resolution? Will it keep dismissing the possibility that an agreement with West Bank Palestinians might gradually lead to an improved relationship with the 1.8 million residents of Gaza?

Here in Israel, as soon as the war is over, we must begin the process of creating a new partnership, an internal alliance that will alter the array of narrow interest groups that controls us. An alliance of those who comprehend the fatal risk of continuing to circle the grindstone; those who understand that our borderlines no longer separate Jews from Arabs, but people who long to live in peace from those who feed, ideologically and emotionally, on continued violence.

I believe that Israel still contains a critical mass of people, both left-wing and right-wing, religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, who are capable of uniting — with sobriety, with no illusions — around a few points of agreement to resolve the conflict with our neighbors.

There are many who still “remember the future” (an odd phrase, but an accurate one in this context) — the future they want for Israel, and for Palestine. There are still — but who knows for how much longer — people in Israel who understand that if we sink into apathy again we will be leaving the arena to those who would drag us fervently into the next war, igniting every possible locus of conflict in Israeli society as they go.

If we do not do this, we will all — Israelis and Palestinians, blindfolded, our heads bowed in stupor, collaborating with hopelessness — continue to turn the grindstone of this conflict, which crushes and erodes our lives, our hopes and our humanity.

———————-

David Grossman is the author, most recently, of “Falling Out of Time.” His other books include “To the End of the Land,” “Death as a Way of Life” and “The Yellow Wind.” This essay was translated by Jessica Cohen from the Hebrew.
———————-

Some Comments:

Maura

Yesterday    Thank you, for a sane analysis of this horrible situation.

 

Occupy Government

Yesterday   Israel came into being with great moral authority and has been defending itself ever since, with support from the West. A considerable part…

 

Bill Levy

Yesterday   David Grossman there is no Israeli-Arab conflict only an Arab conflict. It wasn’t the Jews who wanted to destroy the Arabs not 100 years…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

But above statement does not sit well with the Secretary’s benefactor on this trip – His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar, who is funding the UN Secretary-General’s current trip to the Middle East, or the Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s Middle East Policy guide, Dr. Nabil ElArabi, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the linchpin between the opposing two Arab Sunni factions headed by Qatar – the Godfather of the Muslim Brotherhood and of its off-Shoot the Hamas, and Saudi Arabia, that detests those two last named political Islamic fundamentalist organizations.
Following this we can say that except in the UN released report of that OFF-THE-CUFF Press conference in the presence of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which can be read at    www.un.org/offthecuff/index.asp?c… no other document, press release, or other UN paper has anything as clearly expressed as this. It is always about the suffering of the Gaza Palestinians – the poor poor innocent people that are being bombed continuously by the Israelis because they are being used as human shields to the rocket launchers that hide among them.

Not only that, it is the UN paid for and UN maintained facilities that are used as storage place for the rockets. when such a use of a facility became public the UN paid folks just turned them over to the Hamas. It is just not enough to acknowledge as the UNSG did when in Ramallah on July 22nd that UNRWA’s regular operations were “acutely affected” by the fact that they were used to store weapons. and then say that he strongly condemns “the indiscriminate rocket fire launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza into Israel. I am also alarmed by Israel’s heavy response and corresponding high civilian death toll. This is the “proportionality argument” that forgets that in the World there are more then a billion Muslims and less then 10 million Jews – which would indeed mean a proportionality of 1:1,000 – or in mathematical terms each Jew killed weighs as much as 1,000 Muslims killed – this when the killing is started by people that dream of cleansing their region of the Infidel Jews.

In that video-conference from Ramallah Mr. Ban complains that in the last 5 years, the time he is UN Secretary-General this is his third time to come on an emergency mission tp the region to help in a crisis.

That means the children of Gaza are now living through the third major assault in the last five years of their lives, he said.

Obviously, the UNSG just said the truth which is that just achieving a cease-fire without demilitarization of  Gaza achieves nothing else then a short break in a continuing warfare and there is no reasn why Israel should accept this. The ridiculous fact is that Israel nevertheless did accept Egypt’s proposal to allow for just such a break and it was Hamas grand-standing that rejected it. Hamas hates Egypt perhaps even more then their hate for Israel. The ruler of Qatar sees this self destructing attitude of Hamas and has sponsored the UNSG mission in an attempt to save Hamas from Israel and from itself.

The UNSG in his trip was in Egypt as well – just to make sure Egypt does not give up its efforts in the face of this Hamas intransigence and to ask Egypt to figure out a face saving approach for Hamas so they do not look like losers. Will a united Israel cave in to such pressure that leaves the Hamas enemy look like a winner? Specially now when Hamas managed to close Israel’s link to the World by in the post downing of Malaysia 17 in the Ukraine that forces civil airlines to avoid flying over war zones.

To top this all we just received the following e-mail from UN Watch that nixes a UN were Arab States and some sworn anti-Western states are shredding the UN Charter and the UN Declaration on Human rights.

But before we post that e-mail, let us remind the UNSG that his predecessor was able to pass on the very important and here relevant PRINCIPLE OF THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT which here translates into the responsibility of a ruling government to protect its citizens. This is something the Israeli Government is trying to do, but the Hamas that took over the governing of Gaza from the National Palestinian Authority uses its citizens as human shield to their missiles something that has to be undone by outside intervention that removes them from the business of government. Only the Palestinian Authority, with outside help, could do this. Qatar does not back the PA but Hamas. As such the Qatar money carpet used to fly te UNSG to the Middle East may have been a very bad idea. It seems that this is being realized at high levels at the UN and texts are being altered as reported today by Matthew Russell Lee of the Inner City Press Office at the UN who speaks also for FUNCA – the Free UN Coalition For Access.

—————–

THE UN WATCH PRESENTATION TODAY IN GENEVA BEFORE THE UNHRC:

GENEVA, July 23, 2014 - The Palestinian ambassador to the UNHRC, together with Iran, Syria, Egypt, Cuba and Venezuela tried but failed to silence UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer during today’s UN Emergency Session on Gaza, as he defended Israel’s right to resist Hamas aggression, and called out the hypocrisy of those who initiated the biased proceeding.

As expected, the council voted 29 to 1 (USA), with 17 abstaining (EU & others), to condemn Israel for “gross violations of international human rights,” and it created a new commission of inquiry to produce a second Goldstone Report. Click here to see the grossly one-sided resolution—and a list of the nations who ignominiously voted for it.

Testimony delivered today, 23 July 2014, by UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer, at the UN Human Rights Council Emergency Session on Gaza
Mr. President, I have just returned here from visiting Israel to tell this assembly, and the world, about the grave situation that I witnessed and experienced.

An entire nation—towns, villages and cities, from the Negev Desert up to the Galilee, from the Judean hills of Jerusalem to the Tel Aviv seashore—has been under brutal and relentless attack, from more than two thousand mortars, rockets and long-range missiles, fired from Gaza toward civilians in every part of the Holy Land.

Never before, in the history of Israel’s seven decades of existence, has its men, women and children come under such a massive aerial assault, forcing them, at the sound of air raid sirens day and night, to run for shelter.

And never before, in the modern history of nations, has a free and democratic society come under such sustained bombardment from a terrorist organization, one that openly strives for and celebrates the murder of civilians, and that, as its general worldview, glorifies death.

Did the world ever imagine that the ancient city of Jerusalem—sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and replete with holy places that are recognized by the United Nations as protected world heritage sites—would be deliberately targeted by indiscriminate rockets?

And yet it is.

During one air raid in Jerusalem, I ran down to the basement of a building with little children crying and traumatized. During an air raid in Tel Aviv, the neighbors of an apartment building showed great strength of spirit in defiance of terrorism, by reaching out to strangers in the shelters, as we heard the booms of the rockets above.

And as  I was seated in my airplane, about to depart and return back here to Geneva, the air raid siren went off around the airport. We all had to rush off the plane and seek shelter. You’ve heard the news today: that international airlines are now ceasing to fly to Israel because of this danger.

I believe that the world should salute this terrorized, besieged and embattled nation, which has refused to surrender to demoralization, instead showing such courage, resolve and strength of spirit in surviving—and resisting—this massive aggression.

And people should consider: Is there any precedent in world history for a nation passively to suffer a three-week bombardment of its civilian population, by more than 2,000 deadly rockets?

The attempt by Hamas to shut down Israel’s sole international airport, in a country already besieged by land from hostile forces from north to south, would constitute the strangulation of an artery vital to the life of Israel’s people and economy.

These acts of aggression also target the sovereign rights of the nations under whose flags these airplanes fly.

I ask each ambassador in this chamber to take a moment and imagine terrorists deliberately firing deadly rockets at the airports of Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, or Frankfurt; Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, or Tokyo.

How would your government react?

How long would your nation wait before doing everything in its power to exercise its right, under international law and morality, to resist such aggression?

Mr. President,

I turn now to the resolution upon which this Council will soon vote. The text before us denounces Israel, denies its right to self-defence, and disregards Hamas war crimes.

We ask: why does this Council refuse to say that which was said only two weeks ago by the Palestinian ambassador himself?

In an extraordinary moment of candor, Palestinian Ambassador Ibrahim Khraishi admitted, on Palestinian TV, that “each and every” Palestinian missile launched against Israeli civilians constitutes “a crime against humanity.”

And that, by contrast, Israel’s own response actions in Gaza “followed the legal procedures” because, as Hamas spokespersons admitted on TV, “the Israelis warned them to evacuate their homes before the bombardment; but, “as for the missiles launched from our side, we never warn anyone about where these missiles are about to fall or about the operations we carry out.”

Can any UN entity, or any individual, be truly for human rights when they refuse to say that which was said by the Palestinian ambassador himself?

Is it possible that the true purpose of this session is to silence the true victims and voices of human rights around the world by deflecting attention from the world’s worst abuses?
We ask all those who embrace hypocrisy and double standards: if in the past year you didn’t cry out whe thousands of protesters were killed and injured by Turkey, Egypt and Libya; when more victims than ever were hanged by Iran; women and children in Afghanistan were bombed; whole communities were massacred in South Sudan; hundreds in Pakistan were killed by jihadist terror attacks; 10,000 Iraqis were killed by terrorists—
[Egypt interrupts with an objection.]
President of UNHRC Session: We have a point of order. Egypt, you have the floor.
Egypt: Mr. President, I think we are meeting today for the special session to discuss the current crisis in Gaza and the violations committed within this crisis. So I don’t see why we have a reason to discuss other issues relating to human rights situations on other countries.
United States of America: We think it is relevant to the subject under debate, and therefore you should allow the NGO to continue to speak.
Iran: We fully support the point of order made by Egypt.
Canada: We urge you to allow the NGO to complete their intervention, which is relevant to the discussions at hand.
Israel: It is important that civil society participate in this debate, and we request that you allow this NGO to continue.
Venezuela: We support the point of order made by Egypt.
Palestine: This is not a point of order, but more a clarification. The speaker will continue along the same lines if the speaker is not stopped. I would ask you not to waste any time on this so we can conclude this meeting in good time.
Cuba: It is inconceivable that a NGO should be able to come to this Council to distract us with the little time we have to debate an issue which is of such crucial importance as the genocide being committed currently against the Palestinian people.
President: I give the floor back to UN Watch, with the request that he adhere to the subject matter under discussion today.

UN Watch: Thank you, Mr. President. I’ll just note that there had been some questions whether the videotape interview of the Palestinian ambassador on Palestinian TV was genuine or not, but we see that the Palestinian ambassador has just intervened—and has failed to deny those remarks. Let the record show that.

Finally, we ask: If those who refuse to speak out for Palestinians—1800 Palestinians, if not more—who were starved to death, murdered, by Assad in Syria, but you only cry out when Israel can be blamed, then you are not pro human rights, you are only anti-Israel.

Syria: We’re used to hearing this NGO creating divisions among the speakers, and speaking out of turn. It is strange to hear an NGO defending the killing of women and children, and the destruction of infrastructure in Palestine. I would hope that the speaker is no longer allowed to continue his statement.
President: I give the floor back to UN Watch.

Hillel: Thank you, Mr. President. Let the world note: that in a session purportedly on Palestinian human rights, the government of Syria objected to us mentioning the 1800 Palestinians that they starved and murdered.

tel: (41-22) 734-1472 • fax: (41-22) 734-1613
www.unwatch.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Call for UN Reforms After Ban Flies on Qatar-Funded, UK Registered Plane

By Matthew Russell Lee, The Inner City Press at the UN – Follow up on exclusive

 

UNITED NATIONS, July 21, more hereWhy shouldn’t the UN be able to live up the most basic standards of transparency and good government?

   Inner City Press, and now the Free UN Coalition for Access, have been asking this question. From the UN’s July 21 transcript, video here from Minute 12:55

Inner City Press: As I asked you before, and I know that you had said you would answer at some point, how did the Secretary-General fly from New York to Qatar?  Was it on a Qatari plane, and what safeguards are in place? Would he take a flight from any nation?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Okay, Matthew, it was the Qatari Government [that] very generously chartered a plane for the Secretary-General to enable him to go about his visit.  This is not the kind of visit that we could do if we were not flying on a private plane.  It is not a Qatari plane; it was chartered.  It is a British-registered plane, as some of you will be able to see on the photos.  But, it is a private aircraft funded by the Qatari Government.

   Should the UN Secretary General in a mediation attempt accept free travel from a country with a particular interest in the conflict to be mediated?

   What review should take place? What disclosures should be made, and when? From later in the UN’s July 21 transcript, video here from Minute 31:

 

Inner City Press: you are saying that the use of private planes, generically if necessary, is signed off by the ethics office, but my question is, private planes provided by anyone? Would the Secretary-General, would he accept such service from any Member State, or would he accept it from corporations? The question becomes, given that particular countries have different views of the conflict, what review is made before accepting a particular country’s contribution?

Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq: Well, we do have, like I said, an ethics office and a legal office that can look into these things and see whether something is appropriate or not.

Inner City Press: Was this particular flight checked or you’re saying there’s a generic ruling in advance that any private plane is okay?

Deputy Spokesman Haq: No, I don’t think there’s a generic ruling about this, but certainly, if you need to justify this for essential needs, and something like this, a trip that the Secretary-General was able to embark on and made the decision on just at the end of last week and then had to travel, starting Saturday evening, something like that would have been extremely hard or basically impossible to do in a different sort of way.

Inner City Press: I’m asking because in the budget Committee, often many, particularly developing world countries, they say that things should be funded out of the UN’s general budget rather than taking voluntary contributions from States that then have influence. So, my question is, isn’t there a travel budget? We’ve asked in this room many times to know what the budget is, so I’d still like to know that. But, if there is a budget, why wasn’t the general UN budget used for this rather than taking a specific gift from a specific country? That’s the question.

Deputy Spokesman Haq: The worry is, of course, if you run out of money early, does that mean you can’t travel, even if there’s a crisis? In this case, there was a crisis that necessitated sudden travel.

  Inner City Press broke the story on July 19 — credit has been given, for example, by Newsweek, here — and has been asking Ban’s spokespeople for disclosure and what safeguards are in place.

   Lead spokesman Dujarric replied but did not answer on July 19. When he called in to the UN noon briefing from Cairo on July 21, Inner City Press asked him again on whose plane Ban is traveling.

  This time, Dujarric answered that Ban is flying on a Qatar government funded, UK registered plane.  But he did not answer if there are any safeguards against influence or conflicts of interest. Would Ban accept free flights from any UN member state? From anyone at all?

  Inner City Press asked Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, who said  the UN Ethics Office said taking private planes is okay when necessary.

  But private planes from ANYONE? Any member state? A corporation? There have been no real answers, yet. But there need to be.

 Diplomats told Inner City Press that Ban would fly — on a Qatari plane — to Qatar, Ramallah (but not for now Gaza), Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.

  The diplomats who complained to Inner City Press questioned not only Ban taking free flights from a particular country, but also how the use (and landing) of a Qatari plane will play in, for example, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

 Inner City Press asked Ban’s top two spokespeople, and the spokesperson listed as on weekend duty, the following:

“Please state whether the Secretary General is accepting free transportation from any member state or outside party for his current trip to the region concerning the Gaza crisis, and if so please explain the reason and any safeguards in place against influence or conflict of interest.

“Such disclosure should be common practice; if necessary, note that former Spokesperson Nesirky did answer such Press questions, for example concerning the Secretary General flying on a UAE plane (see sample below). On deadline, thank you in advance.

From: UN Spokesperson – Do Not Reply [at] un.org
Subject: Your questions
To: Matthew Russell Lee [at] InnerCityPress.com
Date: Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 3:00 PM

- The UAE Government provided an aircraft to fly the Secretary-General from Beirut to Abu Dhabi because of time constraints.

     Later on July 19, the following was received, which we publish in full 25 minutes after receipt:

 

 

From: Stephane Dujarric [at] un.org
Date: Sat, Jul 19, 2014 at 5:30 PM
Subject: Re: Press question if SG is accepting free travel from any member state or outside party, as was disclosed in 2012, on deadline, thanks
To: Matthew.Lee [at] innercitypress [dot] com
Cc: FUNCA [at] funca.info

Dear Matthew, Thanks for your question and thanks for the draft answer. The logistical details of the SG’s trip, including the travel arrangements are still being worked out. Once we are in a position to confirm them, i will revert.

best

Stephane Dujarric (Mr.)
Spokesman for the Secretary-General

  But obviously the “logistical details” of getting to Qatar were worked out – Ban had already been to Qatar, then Kuwait before Cairo.

  One asked, what can you solve if you can’t even say how you got there?

  Inner City Press thanked Dujarric and his colleagues for the interim response and asked, “both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Poroshenko’s office say they have spoken with the Secretary General and give read-outs. Will a UN read-out be put out? If so, when? If not, why not?”

  On July 21, Inner City Press asked Haq, who confirmed the calls took place but nothing about the contents. What is happened with the UN?
The Free UN Coalition for Access is pressing for reforms.
We’ll have more on this.

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Towards —- “A Catalyzing Action” to —- CLIMATE SUMMIT 2014 —- the UN Secretary General Recommends:

 

 

 

MEDIA ADVISORYAbu Dhabi Ascent
4-5 May 2014Jumeirah Etihad Towers
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

New York, 2 May—Ministers, experts and officials from government, along with business and civil society leaders will gather in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, from 4-5 May to lay the foundation for a platform that will launch concerted action on climate change at this September’s Climate Summit.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will attend the Abu Dhabi Ascent which aims to prepare for and build momentum ahead of his Climate Summit on 23 September in New York.  
 
The two-day Ascent, which begins on Sunday, 4 May, will bring together governments, the private sector, civil society and other partners to discuss how to take concrete action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance resilience to climate change.
 
While in the UAE’s capital, the Secretary-General will hold talks with government officials and representatives from a wide range of groups, including business, finance and civil society. The Secretary-General will also visit the Shams Solar Power Plant.
 
The Abu Dhabi Ascent is the only international meeting to prepare for the Climate Summit, which aims to mobilize political will for climate action and catalzye government—private sector-civil society driven initiatives that will target critical areas where climate action is needed.

Abu Dhabi will be the first international meeting to draw on the conclusions from the recently release reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found that the consequences of climate change were already being felt in every continent, and that while present action is insufficient, there are still pathways toward a low carbon future that could minimize the impacts of climate change. Action now, it said, was necessary in order to avoid much higher costs in the future.
 
Participants in the Ascent will learn about the various opportunities to engage in a range of initiatives aimed at expanding the use of renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, developing smart agricultural practices, cleaner transport, improving city infrastructure, reducing carbon pollutants, and increasing financing for climate action.
 
Media Opportunities at the Abu Dhabi Ascent:

 Members of the media are invited to the opening of the Abu Dhabi Ascent. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, United Arab Emirates will open the Ascent, followed by remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and John W. Ashe, President of the 68th session of the UN General Assembly.

Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States and Chairman of The Climate Reality Project, will give the keynote speech.
 
There will be a press conference with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UAE Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber at 10:45.

A press briefing with Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, Felipe Calderon former President of Mexico, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and special advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Kandeh Yumkella, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and chief executive of the initiative Sustainable Energy for All (tbc), will follow.

Journalists can register by using the below link and select media under the drop down box.
abudhabiascent2014.com/abu-dhabi-ascent/register

For more information, please contact Dan Thomas from the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team, daniel.thomas@un.org, 1-917 520-8842  or Dan Shepard, UN Department of Public Information, shepard@un.org, 1 646 675-3286

—————————-===========================—————————

PRESS RELEASE

Abu Dhabi Ascent Mobilizes New Engagement for Practical Actions to Address Climate Change 

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 5 May—In a major shift from negotiations to engagement on action, more than 1,000 participants, including 70 government ministers voiced support for the development of a range of bold initiatives to address climate change at the Abu Dhabi Ascent which concluded today.
 
The two-day Ascent meeting was co-hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon and the Government of the United Arab Emirates to prepare for the Climate Summit that will be held on 23 September in New York to raise ambition and action for climate change.
 
The Secretary-General said he was leaving Abu Dhabi with the sense that change is in the air. “I challenge you to be part of that change – to be at the head of the race.”
 
But he warned that any government or major business that doesn’t have a climate strategy is in trouble. “Don’t get left behind. Don’t be on the losing side of history.”
 
Calling the meeting informative and inspiring, Mr. Ban said, “Now the hard work begins.
In the coming months, I will count on the wisdom and initiative of all actors.
 
“Those who are prepared to lead can expect considerable returns. The business opportunities of the low-carbon economy are great. The social and environmental benefits for countries in all regions are yet to be realized.”
 
“We have made real progress in the past two days in cementing ambitious partnerships to cut emissions, mobilize investment and help countries adapt to climate change,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, United Arab Emirates Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change. “The UAE is proud to have played such a central role in supporting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his outstanding efforts to lead the global community to real climate action.
 
“We believe more strongly than ever that addressing climate change will demand effective actions across the energy-food-water nexus. It has been encouraging to see that here in Abu Dhabi we have achieved real progress in shaping, scaling up and preparing these initiatives to be announced in September.”
 
Participants at the meeting worked in small groups to share plans around nine key action areas. The best initiatives will be highlighted at the Climate Summit.
 
Wrapping up the meeting this afternoon, Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, said the Ascent emphasized that the costs of inaction on climate change exceed the costs of action and that economic growth and reducing emissions are compatible processes.  She said that business is moving to play a decisive role in areas from renewables to deforestation-free supply chains; and civil society and indigenous peoples must be fully engaged in the responses.
 
She said, “The path to the top is beginning to emerge from the mist. We can now see many steps which need to be taken individually and collectively to achieve a successful Climate Summit on 23 September.”

For more information, please contact Dan Shepard, UN Department of Public Information, shepard@un.org, 1 646 675-3286 or Dan Thomas from the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team, daniel.thomas@un.org, 1-917 520-8842

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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 April 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Brazen Hamas Billboard Links Hamas to Turkey, Qatar.

April 3, 2014    1 comment
Hamas's publicity billboard that reads, 'Jerusalem is Waiting for Men.' Photo: Screenshot.

Hamas’s publicity billboard that reads, ‘Jerusalem is Waiting for Men.’ Photo: Screenshot.

In a rather conspicuous propaganda stunt, Hamas, the terror group ruling Gaza, foisted a new billboard showing the heads of its Islamist leadership, along with the leaders of Turkey and Qatar, with a caption that implies their help has been recruited to wrest Jerusalem from Israeli control.

The billboard shows Hamas political chief  Khaled Meshal and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, alongside previous and current Qatari leaders Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The billboard reads ”Jerusalem is Waiting for Men,” along with a photo of the Dome of the Rock.

The massive banner was photographed in Gaza by the Palestinian News Agency, and flagged on Thursday by blogger Elder of Ziyon.

The blogger wrote that the sign also implies two other messages.

First, the belittling of leaders of other Arab countries, especially Egypt, where Hamas gained under the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, and is now being shunned after that group, its political “big brother,” was expelled last year.

And, second, that Hamas, which played second fiddle to Islamic Jihad in last month’s shelling of Israel, is the stronger of the two groups and will be on the winning team to, one day, take Jerusalem.

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Egyptian Entrepreneur Laments Lack of Open Business With Israel.

April 3, 2014   3 comments
Cairo International Airport, where sources spied Israeli and Egyptian security officials meeting to discuss cooperation to fight terrorists in the Sinai. Photo: Cairo International Airport.

Cairo International Airport, where sources spied Israeli and Egyptian security officials meeting to discuss cooperation to fight terrorists in the Sinai. Photo: Cairo International Airport.

An Egyptian entrepreneur said he resents his country’s hostility to Israel which prevents him from openly conducting any business with the Jewish state, Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported late last week.

“It is very unfortunate that we cannot be pragmatic and say this particular country has good quality and inexpensive commodities and we are going to import from it because it is in our interest,” said the unnamed Egyptian, who still does business with Israel on the down low. “After all these years an Israeli commodity on, say, the shelf of a supermarket would not be picked up except by a few people — if we assume that any supermarket would at all dare to carry, say, Israeli fruit juice.”

Like most Egyptian businessmen who work with Israelis, he insisted on remaining anonymous for fear of being “stigmatized as dealing with the enemy,” he told Al-Ahram.

“I really don’t understand; we have a peace deal and we cannot do business, it has been 35 years since this peace treaty was signed and still it is a big issue if someone said let us do business with Israel or let us benefit of their agricultural expertise,” he said.

Trade between Israel and Egypt dropped after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011, but government officials in Cairo say the fall was possibly a result of the subsequent political turmoil, according to the report.

Despite any current animosity Egypt may harbor toward Israel, an independent economic source told Al-Ahram that Egyptian authorities are considering all options in dealing with the country’s current severe energy shortages, not excluding the import of natural gas from Israel.

“Cooperation in natural gas has been very stable for many years despite the suspension and trade dispute that occurred after the 25 January Revolution removed Mubarak — but this is the case with trade cooperation in general, limited and stable,” said a government official.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday sharpened the Obama administration’s mounting criticism of Russia’s role in the escalating violence in Syria, asserting that the Kremlin was undermining the prospects of a negotiated solution by “contributing so many more weapons” and political support to President Bashar al-Assad.

“They’re, in fact, enabling Assad to double down, which is creating an enormous problem,” Mr. Kerry said in Jakarta, Indonesia, before he flew here to confer with top officials of the United Arab Emirates, a gulf state that has been a strong supporter of the Syrian opposition.

Mr. Kerry’s tough criticism underscored the erosion of the Russian-American partnership in Syria, and raised questions about the viability of the United States’ diplomatic strategy to help resolve the escalating crisis.

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President Obama has been deeply reluctant for nearly three years to get the United States directly involved in Syria’s civil war, and pulled back the threat of cruise missile strikes in September after Mr. Assad’s agreement to eliminate his chemical arsenal. While chemicals for making poison gas are leaving the country, behind schedule, Mr. Assad’s conventional attacks on civilians have escalated significantly, and now Mr. Obama is calling for a review of what one senior official called “both old and new options” to bolster opposition forces and ease a desperate humanitarian crisis.

 

Crisis in Syria

  • News, analysis and photos of the conflict that has left more than 100,000 dead and millions displaced.

    Full Coverage »

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Administration officials, however, insist that those options do not include directly supplying more sophisticated, heavier armaments to the rebels, who are already receiving some weapons and training under a limited C.I.A. program, or carrying out airstrikes in a civil war that Mr. Obama fears could turn into a prolonged conflict. Instead, the United States is considering paying salaries to some of the rebel forces and providing more transportation and intelligence, American and European officials said.

Mr. Assad’s hold on power has grown over the past year, according to the head of American intelligence. Recognizing that a political settlement is unlikely if he keeps the advantage, administration officials said that Mr. Obama and other Western leaders had dropped their objections to proposals by Saudi Arabia and other countries to funnel more advanced weapons to vetted rebel groups, including portable antiaircraft weapons, often called manpads.

A secret meeting in Washington last week among the intelligence chiefs from almost all of the countries attempting to oust the Assad government included extensive discussion about how to best provide that new lethal aid to rebel groups, the officials said. The gathering of the top intelligence officials from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Britain, France and the United Arab Emirates, and several others from the 11-nation group known as the Friends of Syria, reflected a belief that the diplomatic track has been exhausted unless Mr. Assad sustains significant military setbacks.

Mr. Kerry’s pointed remarks on Russia’s role were striking since it was Mr. Kerry who flew to Moscow in May, and the administration hoped that Russia would encourage the Syrian government to move toward a political settlement without Mr. Assad. After meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin, Mr. Kerry announced that the United States and Russia would co-sponsor renewed peace talks in Geneva.

Those talks have now stalled. In August and September, the United States fleshed out and strengthened a Russian proposal that Syria’s chemical arsenal be dismantled — a process now underway, but behind schedule — suggesting the countries could work together even while backing different sides in the war.

That comity, or at least a temporary alignment of interests, has now been set back. Mr. Obama was sharply critical of Russia in public statements over the past week, first at a news conference with President François Hollande of France and then at a meeting in California with King Abdullah II of Jordan. One senior Western official who discussed the issue with Mr. Obama last week said, “I’ve never seen him more frustrated — not only with the Russians, but with the failure of anything his own administration has tried so far.”

“The Russian view is that their guy is winning,” said the official, who has been involved in the talks in Washington, “and they may be right. So we’re back to the question we faced a year ago: How do you change the balance and force the Syrians to negotiate?”

Mr. Kerry said on Monday that the United States and its allies were approaching a series of critical decisions on how to respond to the crisis. But even as he insisted that the administration remained committed to peacefully resolving a civil war that has claimed about 140,000 Syrian lives and displaced hundreds of thousands, it is no longer clear if the United States has the influence to broker a settlement or whether the limited steps the White House is now willing to consider would be sufficient to help it regain its lost leverage.

Debate has raged since the start of the civil war over whether Western and Arab nations should provide Syria’s rebels with manpads. Administration officials have in the past sought to limit the flow of the weapons into the Syria conflict, fearing they could be smuggled away and later used by terrorists against civilian airliners. However, providing selected rebel fighters with surface-to-air missiles is a logical response to the persistent barrel-bomb attacks of Syrian cities like Aleppo and Homs.

 

The Syrian Opposition, Explained

There are believed to be hundreds, if not thousands, of groups fighting in Syria. These opposition groups are fighting the Assad regime, but recently turned on each other with increased ferocity.

Jeffrey White, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former senior American intelligence official, said the Assad government was using Russian-supplied Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters to carry out the barrel-bomb attack in Homs. Russia, he said, is most likely providing spare parts such as engines, transmissions and rotors, which may explain Mr. Kerry’s specific reference to how Russian weapons are fueling the war.

A fighter from the Damascus suburbs who fled to Beirut, Lebanon, said one of the reasons he left was that the Army of Islam, the rebel group led by Zahran Alloush, had surface-to-air missiles, which he said were a Syrian Army model taken from antiaircraft bases a year ago. But the Army of Islam, which is supported by Saudi private donors, has declined to share its plentiful arms and its cash with other rebel groups, particularly non-Islamist ones. That has complicated efforts to counter Mr. Assad’s forces around Damascus.

Mr. Obama’s apparent willingness to drop objections to supplying the rebel groups with heavier weapons may simply be an acknowledgment that Saudi Arabia and gulf states that are frustrated with American policy are now prepared to do so anyway, without Washington’s blessing. American officials say they also now have a better sense than they did last year about which groups they can trust to use and secure the weapons.

Mr. Obama has also been influenced by growing fears that Syria is becoming a training ground for a new generation of terrorists and may become even more of a haven until a political settlement is reached. “That’s one big change from a year ago,” a senior American diplomat said. “And it’s beginning to haunt everyone with memories of Afghanistan.”

The Wall Street Journal first reported the likely increase in manpad shipments and rebel salaries on its website Friday night.

Mr. Kerry alluded on Monday to the internal administration deliberations about what to do next on Syria on Monday before he conferred here with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates.

“It is important for the world to consider in these next days exactly what steps can now be taken in the face of this intransigence that is creating an even greater human catastrophe by the moment,” Mr. Kerry said at his news conference in Jakarta.

In an administration that has been deeply divided on Syria strategy — the first hints of antigovernment protest erupted in the Damascus markets exactly three years ago Monday — Mr. Kerry has been among those arguing for more overt and covert pressure on Mr. Assad, according to administration officials.

But Mr. Obama has been wary of deep involvement and is adamant that no American forces can be put at risk — a reflection, aides say, of his belief that even if Mr. Assad is overthrown, the country could enter into a civil war from which there is no exit for years.

Mr. Kerry’s remarks on Monday reflected the blunt assessment that Mr. Assad is filibustering in Geneva while seeking a battlefield victory. “The regime stonewalled; they did nothing, except continue to drop barrel bombs on their own people and continue to destroy their own country,” he said. “And I regret to say they are doing so with increased support from Iran, from Hezbollah and from Russia.”

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Do ‘Syria,’ ‘Iraq’ and ‘Lebanon’ Still Exist?

based on the  original article by Jonathan Spyer that was posted by the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum and that we re-post with a series of changes that are mainly of editorial nature.
The Tower
February 2014

www.meforum.org/3751/syria-iraq-lebanon-nation-states

For almost a century, the Middle East has been defined by the nation-states that emerged following the Allied Europeans – British and French – victory in World War I which was the end of the Ottoman Empire, and followed later by the unraveling of the resulting colonial era. Since then, strategic analyses of the region have concentrated on the relations between these states, created by bureaucratic lines drawn by the interim colonial powers, and diplomatic efforts have generally attempted to maintain their stability and the integrity of these borders. As a result, the current map of the Middle East has remained largely unchanged over more than nine decades.

But these actually never made sense and do so much less now.  The old maps do not reflect the reality on the ground, and the region is now defined not by rivalry between nation-states, but by sectarian divisions that are spilling across the old borders and rendering them irrelevant. Today, there is a single sectarian war underway across the Middle East, one that threatens to engulf the entire region.

This war has a number of fronts, some more intense and active than others, but it is everywhere defined by sectarian conflict – especially the divide between Sunni and Shia Muslims. It is most intense in the area encompassing the current states of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon; but has also spread further afield—to Bahrain, northern Yemen, and to some degree Kuwait and eastern Saudi Arabia.

The core power on the Shia side is the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s leading state that accepts terror as a means to implement its plans.  Iran was the founding patron of Hezbollah, which even before 9/11  had killed more Americans than any terror group in the world. The Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Maliki government and assorted Shia militias in Iraq, the Houthi rebels in northern Yemen, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, are all allies or proxies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is capable of rendering substantial assistance to its friends through the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – a powerful military and economic force that possesses substantial expertise and experience in building proxy organizations and engaging in political and paramilitary warfare.

On the Sunni side, the dominant power is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has been wary of Tehran, but also has struggled since 9/11 – on and off -  against the Islamists of Al Qaeda. Its allies include various groups among the Syrian rebels, the March 14 movement in Lebanon, the military regime in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, and sometimes Turkey. The Saudis, however, are at something of a disadvantage. They possess no parallel to the IRGC, and have problematic relations with the extreme Sunni jihadists of al-Qaeda, who have played a prominent role in the fighting on all three major fronts and who are an outgrowth of the Saudi Wahabbi movement – the kind of Islam on which the Saudi throne is based. (Here we have a clear different approach to the issue then we found in the original article – that seemed to be over friendly to the Saudis – possibly because of the way Washington is siding with the Saudis.)

How did this situation come about? Is there evidence of a clear linkage between the various forces on the respective sides? Why is this conflict so extreme in certain countries—like Syria and Iraq—where it appears to be leading to the breakup of these states? How dangerous are these changes for the West?

Focusing on the areas of most intense conflict—Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon—can help us answer these questions.

This war is a result of the confluence of a number of circumstances. First, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are all home to a host of different sectarian and ethnic communities. The stark divisions that exist in these societies have never been resolved. In Syria and Iraq, they were suppressed for decades by brutal dictatorial regimes. The Assad regime in Syria and Saddam Hussein’s in Iraq – were family dictatorships based on minority sectarian communities – the Alawis in Syria, and the Arab Sunnis in Iraq – while claiming to rule in the name of pan-Arab nationalism. In service of this ideology, the Syrian and Iraqi regimes ruthlessly put down ethnic and sectarian separatism in all its forms; in particular, Shia Islamism in Iraq, Sunni Islamism in Syria, and the Kurdish national movement in both countries. All were treated without mercy.

Lebanon, by contrast, is a far weaker state, which was ruled by a power-sharing arrangement between ethnic and religious groups that collapsed into civil war in 1975. The issues underlying that war were never resolved; instead, between 1990 and 2005 the Syrian army presence in Lebanon ended all discussion of basic issues of national identity. (Here we must add something the original article has completely left untackled – the fact that in Lebanon the French colonial power has sponsored a Christian – mainly Maronite – minority and allowed for its governing over the Sunni and Shia parts of the population in a  prearranged structure that fell apart with the influx of Sunni Palestinian refugees. These refugees ended up being supported by the Shia backed Hezbollah and eventually got attacked from the outside by the Israelis). Lebanon thus developed a different dynamics that is still tripartite in its Arab make up. Lebanon’s Maronite families with their French backing did not become dictators like in the cases of Iraq and Syria.

Over the last decade, the once ironclad structures of dictatorship and suppression that kept ethnic and sectarian tensions from erupting, have weakened or disappeared.

The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq destroyed the Saddam Hussein regime. A sectarian Shia government, based on the Shia Arab majority and conditionally accepted by the Kurds, took its place. In Syria, a brutal civil war has severely curtailed the power of the Assad regime, which now rules only about 40 percent of the country’s territory. The Sunni Arab majority and the Kurdish minority have carved out autonomous sectarian enclaves in the 60 percent that remains.

Western hopes that a non-sectarian identity would take hold in the areas formerly ruled by Saddam and the Assads are persistent but proven illusory. Remarks about Iraq made by then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in 2004 sum up these hopes and the tendency to self-delusion that often accompanies them. “What has been impressive to me so far,” Rice said, is that Iraqis—whether Kurds or Shia or Sunni or the many other ethnic groups in Iraq—have demonstrated that they really want to live as one in a unified Iraq…. I think particularly the Kurds have shown a propensity to want to bridge differences that were historic differences in many ways that were fueled by Saddam Hussein and his regime… What I have found interesting and I think important is the degree to which the leaders of the Shia and Kurdish and Sunni communities have continually expressed their desires to live in a unified Iraq.

This faith is expressed also by the Obama Administration, and as a result, it has continued to support the Shia-dominated government in Iraq, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. It sees Maliki’s opposition to Sunni insurgents in western Anbar province as an elected government’s opposition to extremist rebels. This fails to take into account the sectarian nature of the Maliki government itself, and the discriminatory policies he has pursued against the Sunnis of western Iraq.

The reemergence of sectarian conflict so evident in Iraq has also emerged in Syria and is, in turn, showed up in neighboring Lebanon.

Lebanon was first drawn into the Syrian  conflict as a result of the significant and highly effective intervention in Syria in support of the Assad regime by Iran’s Lebanon-based terrorist army, Hezbollah. This quickly led to retaliation against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon by elements among Syria’s Sunni rebels. Supporters of the Sunni rebels have succeeded in attacking Hezbollah’s Dahiyeh compound in south Beirut five times. The bombing on January 2, 2014,  was carried out by a young Lebanese member of an organization called ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) named Qutaiba Muhammad al-Satem; ISIS are Islamic extremists who have been operating as a branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria.

 

 

A map of Syria showing zones of control by the regime and various militias. (Image Source: WikiMedia Commons)

While Hezbollah’s decision to intervene on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria and the subsequent Sunni reaction is partially the result of the divided nature of Lebanon, and Syria, and their unresolved questions of national identity, larger regional conflicts, also of a sectarian nature, are a driving force behind the violence.

Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian civil war came not as a result of automatic sentiments of solidarity, but because Hezbollah forms part of a regional alliance headed by Iran, to which the Assad regime also belongs. When Assad found himself in trouble, Hezbollah was mobilized to assist him. On the opposing side, the Syrian rebels have benefited from the support and patronage of Iran’s rival, Saudi Arabia, and other states along the Arabian peninsula, including the United Arab Emirates.

This rivalry is long standing and not just rooted in theological differences. It is about power. Iran is controlled by a revolutionary regime whose goal is to become the hegemonic force in the Middle East. Although the Iranians certainly regard the Saudis as an enemy and as unfit custodians of Islam’s most holy sites, Tehran’s main goal is to assert control over Arabian Gulf energy supplies, replacing the U.S. as guarantor of resources upon which world is dependent. Tehran understands that the real source of power in the region is the Gulf itself, with its enormous reserves of oil and natural gas that are essential to the global economy. To achieve its goals, Iran must tempt or coerce the Gulf monarchies away from U.S. protection and toward an alliance with Tehran, and ironically, American perceived weakness in the face of Tehran’s nuclear pursuit makes that all the more possible.

Riyadh has emerged as the principle opponent to Iran’s regional ambitions, mainly because the former guarantor of the current regional order, the United States, has chosen to leave the field. Until 2011, the Middle East appeared to be locked into a kind of cold war, in which the Iranians, along with their allies and proxies, sought to overturn the U.S.-dominated regional order, which was based on U.S. alliances with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel. Events over the last five years, however, have created the impression that the U.S. no longer wishes to play this role: America failed to back its longtime Egyptian ally, Hosni Mubarak, when he faced domestic unrest in early 2011. It failed to support the rebel forces fighting the Iran-backed Assad regime. And it failed to back Bahrain against an Iran-supported uprising in the same year. Now, the U.S. appears to be seeking a general rapprochement with Iran.

As a result of all this, Saudi Arabia has begun to take a far more active role in the region. Riyadh and its Gulf allies have certainly helped to finance and stabilize Egypt after the military removed Muhammad Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government from power. It began to take a leading role in supporting the Syrian rebels. It has well-documented relations with the anti-Syrian March 14 movement in Lebanon. In December 2013, the Saudis pledged $3 billion to the official Lebanese army. They also support anti-Maliki elements in Iraq. In addition, they are seeking to create an alliance among the other Gulf states in order to oppose Iranian ambitions, with some success.

But all of the above will not work for the Saudis unless they also stretch out a friendly hand to Israel and do a “SADAT” – that is – backing the right of Israel provided it settles with the Palestinians and do this in a pro-active way by showing their readiness to bankroll a solution of the Palestinian conflict. We say this is the cheapest way for the Saudis to wrestle the region from the Iranians – but we found no such conclusion in the original article. This might be too revolutionary for the conventional mindset that believes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just another Middle East intractable conflict like the one in the article. The trick is to see how an opportunity is created when trying to go about two seemingly intractable problems in tandem!

The original article follows instead by saying -  “increasingly violent rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, intensified by American withdrawal from the region, has helped turn a conflict that was once cold into an increasingly hot cross-border sectarian war.”

There is considerable evidence of links between Iran and Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and their respective allies in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, on the other.

On the Iranian side, Tehran no longer makes any serious attempt to deny the enormous assistance they have given the Assad regime in Syria. Indeed, the Iranians have effectively mobilized all their available regional assets in order to preserve it. The commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Qods Force, Qassem Suleimani, went to Syria himself in order to coordinate these efforts. Perhaps most notably, in mid-2012 the Iranians began training a new light infantry force for Assad. Called the National Defense Force, it was necessary because Assad was unable to use much of his own army, which consisted of Sunni conscripts whose loyalty was unreliable. Iran has even sent its own IRGC fighters to fight in Syria; a fact revealed by footage taken by an Iranian cameraman who was later killed by the rebels, the testimony of Syrian defectors, and the capture of a number of IRGC men in August 2012.

In April 2013, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was summoned to Iran and instructed to deploy his own fighters in Syria. Up to 10,000 of them are now on the ground in Syria at any given time, and they played a crucial role in retaking the strategic town of Qusayr in August 2013. Hezbollah fighters are also taking a prominent role in the battle for the Qalamun area near the Lebanese border, as well as the fighting around Damascus.

Iranian financial donations have also been vital in keeping the regime alive. In January 2013, Iran announced a “credit facility” agreement with Syria that extended a $1 billion line of credit to Assad. Later the same year, an additional credit line of $3.6 billion was announced.

Iraq has also played a vital role in supporting Assad, mainly by allowing Iran to use Iraqi territory and airspace to transfer weapons to Syrian forces. At first glance, this appears to be a strange policy. Relations between Iraq and Syria prior to the civil war were not good, with Maliki openly accusing Assad of supporting Sunni insurgents. But this has now changed. Indeed, Maliki has openly supported Assad since the beginning of the Syrian civil war. This reflects his increasing closeness to Iran, which helped ensure Maliki’s emergence as prime minister after the 2010 elections and pressured Assad to support him as well. Relations between Iraq, Iran, and Syria have only improved since.

In addition to government support, Iraqi Shia militias are now fighting in Syria on behalf of Assad. The Abu Fadl al-Abbas Brigades, Ktaeb Hezbollah, and the Ahl al-Haq group all have forces in Syria. They are playing an important role, given that one of Assad’s major weaknesses is his lack of reliably loyal soldiers. The eruption of violence in Iraq’s western Anbar province has further cemented this alliance, since the insurgency is a direct result of advances made by Sunni jihadis in Syria.

As a result of all this, the Iranian-led side of the regional conflict has emerged as a tightly organized alliance, capable of acting in a coordinated way, pooling its resources for a common goal, and fighting effectively from western Iraq all the way to the Mediterranean.

The Sunni side of the conflict is more chaotic and disjointed. Saudi Arabia is its main financier, but it lacks an equivalent to the Qods force and the IRGC, who are world leaders in subversion and irregular warfare.

Only the most extreme jihadi elements appear capable of clear coordination across borders. For example, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as its name suggests, is active in both countries and controls a contiguous area stretching from the western Anbar province in Iraq to the eastern Raqqa province in Syria. ISIS regards itself as a franchise of al-Qaeda, although it does not take orders directly from the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. Another al-Qaeda group, Jabhat al-Nusra, is active in Syria. In Lebanon, a third branch of al-Qaeda, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, has played a role in the attacks on Hezbollah. In addition, both the ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra are active in Lebanon.

But there are also less extreme groups opposing the Syrian-Iranian axis. Saudi Arabia has backed the March 14 movement, which is the main Sunni opposition party in Lebanon, as well as providing financial support to the Lebanese army. In Syria, the Saudis have fostered the Islamic Front, an alliance of eight Islamist groups unconnected to al-Qaeda. It includes some of the strongest rebel brigades, such as Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Islam, and Liwa al-Tawhid. It is now emerging as the key bloc among the rebels. The Saudis also dominate the Syrian opposition in exile, with Ahmed Jarba, who has close links to Riyadh, recently reelected chairman of the Syrian National Coalition.

There are no indications that the Saudis are backing Sunni insurgents in Iraq, but the larger Sunni community is certainly looking to Riyadh for help. Relations between Saudi Arabia and the current Iraqi government are very bad. The border between the two countries is closed except during the Hajj pilgrimage, there is no Saudi embassy in Baghdad, and commercial relations are kept at a minimum. Some of the Sunni tribes in western Anbar have close links to the Saudis. While they are hostile to al-Qaeda, they are also opposed to the Maliki government, which they regard as a sectarian Shia regime.

There is a third element to this regional conflict that is something of a wild card: The Kurds. A non-Arab people who have long sought an independent state, the Kurds have succeeded in creating a flourishing autonomous zone in northern Iraq that enjoys most of the elements of de facto sovereignty. Since July 2012, another Kurdish autonomous zone has been established in northeast Syria. These two areas occupy a contiguous land mass, but are not politically united. The Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq is controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Party, led by Massoud Barzani, while the autonomous zone in northeast Syria is controlled by the PYD (Democratic Union Party), which is the Syrian branch of the Turkish-based leftist PKK movement.

These movements are rivals, and each sees itself as the appropriate leader of the Kurds. But while there is tension between them, each appears to be securely in control of its respective areas. The Kurds do not enjoy the support of any state in the region, and both the Iranians and the Saudis regard Kurdish national aspirations with suspicion. Nonetheless, the Kurds have managed to accumulate sufficient organizational and military strength to ensure the survival of their self-governing enclaves.

All these factors indicate that two rival alliances are clashing for hegemony over the region. There are myriad practical links between the various combatants, and their activities have long since spilled across the borders of the various states involved in the fighting; as indicated by the presence of Iranian fighters, ISIS, and Hezbollah in Syria; Syrian rebels in Lebanon; and many other examples. Iran is the leader of one side, Saudi Arabia is the main backer of the other, while the Kurds are concerned with maintaining their areas of control and are trying to stay out of the conflict.

The most significant result of the analysis is that the continued existence of Syria and Iraq as unified states is now in question. Practically speaking, Syria has already split into three areas, each controlled by one of the three elements listed above. Iraq has also effectively split into Kurdish and Arab zones, with Sunni and Shia groups fighting over the latter.

In many ways, Lebanon ceased to function as a unified state some time ago; since Hezbollah essentially functions as a de facto mini-state of its own. The Lebanese Sunnis lack a military tradition and have proved helpless in the face of Iran’s support for Hezbollah. But now, the emergence of the Syrian rebels and the growing popularity of Islamism among the Sunni underclass may be altering this balance. This appears to be borne out by the recent surge in Sunni violence against Hezbollah, which is the result of an attempt by Syrian jihadis and other rebels—in concert with their local allies—to bring the war to Lebanon.

Taken together, this indicates that a massive paradigm shift is underway in much of the Middle East. The eclipse of Arab nationalist dictatorships in Iraq and Syria, the historical failure to develop a unified national identity in these states, their mixed ethnic and sectarian makeup, and the U.S.’s withdrawal from its dominant position in the region—with the resulting emergence of a Saudi-Iranian rivalry—have all combined to produce an extraordinary result: A region-wide sectarian war is now taking place in the areas still officially referred to as Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

For the West, as in the region itself, this has very serious implications. Dealing with it effectively will required an equally massive paradigm shift in strategic thinking on the Middle East, one that is capable of dispensing with previous illusions and admitting that sovereign borders once regarded as sacrosanct are swiftly becoming meaningless.

There are new borders taking shape, defined by sectarian divisions that the West ignores at its peril. Despite fantasies of withdrawing from the region, the security of global energy supplies and the maintenance of regional stability are still essential to Western interests. The West has as large a stake in the outcome of this sectarian conflict as the regional players involved. If it cannot adapt to the new Middle East that is swiftly taking shape, it will find itself on the losing side.

Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

The concluding paragraphs are why we thought highly about the article even we had to make some changes in it – and now again – we do not think the Western powers – the United States and the former Middle East colonial Powers of Britain and France have to try to keep onto the internal borders of the fictional States of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, they helped create years ago, and then helped maintain by helping the dictatorial and monarchic regimes that they helped institute.

It is obvious – if the Iran led Shia forces and allies come out victorious in Syria, there will be immediate follow-ups in Bahrain and the oil regions of Eastern Saudi Arabia itself – regions with clear Shia majorities.

As we said, the self preservation of the Saudi regime, that is if Saudi Arabia wants indeed to be considered as half of the tongues that hold together the Middle East – takes them to Jerusalem/Tel Aviv/Ramallah – and this might not be what the original article intended.

That article wanted the Saudis to travel to Washington instead – but really – President Obama with the US experience in Iraq and Afghanistan is best advised to let the Arabs stew in their own pot, go for alternate energy, help China go for alternate energy as well – so they are not dependent on this imaginary Middle East source of global oil either. After all – the US has already lost the oil of Iraq and the contracts now are with China – who imagines the US thinks they will still manage the Saudi oil? The only ones still ready to hang on to strong positions in the region are the Israelis – and that is where the Saudis could find real brothers. Trying  to differentiate between varieties of Islamic extremists will not help create that devil with talent to know the difference between an Al-Qaeda Sunni who works well with the Iranian Shia and the Iraqi Sunni who still likes Saudi money.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Green Prophet Headlines – El Gouna: Egypt builds MENA’s first carbon-neutral city

Link to Green Prophet

 


 

El Gouna: Egypt builds MENA’s first carbon-neutral city

 

Posted: 15 Feb 2014 09:23 PM PST

 

el gouna carbon neutral city EgyptEl Gouna, a resort city on Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, is set to become the first carbon-neutral city in that nation, in Africa, and likely the entire Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Masdar City, in continuing development in Abu Dhabi, initially targeted zero-carbon status, but has yet to hit that goal.
Image of El Gouna from Shutterstock

 

The ambitious development agreement was signed last week by the Egyptian Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs, the Italian Ministry of Environment and El Gouna City.

 

Dr. Laila Iskandar, Egyptian Minister of State for Environmental Affairs, told Trade Arabia, “This agreement will help the Egyptian government to achieve a significant breakthrough in the fields of environment and tourism, enhancing Egypt’s global image and opening the door for Egyptian tourism projects and cities to rank among the leading carbon-neutral entities.”

 

El Gouna is already hailed as Egypt’s most environmentally-friendly vacation destination.  It’s captured Green Globe and Travelife certifications and was selected as the pilot location for the Green Star Hotel Initiative (GSHI).

 

Launched in 2007, GSHI is a cooperative effort between public and private sectors, the Egyptian and German tourism industries, and supported by key technical consultants.  They promote use of environmental management systems and environmentally sound operations to improve environmental performance and to increase competitiveness of the Egyptian hotel industry.

 

Priority projects include conservation of natural resources such as clean beaches, healthy marine life and protected areas, which are the backbone of the Red Sea Riviera and the nation’s eco-tourism market.

 

Mr. Hisham Zaazou, Egyptian Minister of Tourism, told Trade Arabia, “We will also be working on implementing this project in other Egyptian cities.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 3rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

United Nations, Nations Unies
UAE to Host High-Level Meeting in May Leading up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate SummitLeaders to meet in Abu Dhabi 4-5 May on Climate Action

New York, 3 February—A special two-day high- level meeting will be held from 4-5 May in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to encourage announcements of greater action and ambition by world leaders at the Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United Arab Emirates Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, announced today.

The Climate Summit will take place on 23 September, at UN Headquarters in New York, one day before the UN General Assembly begins its General Debate.  The Secretary-General has invited leaders of government, business, finance and civil society to bring bold announcements and actions to address climate change. The Summit will focus on solutions that demonstrate how early action can result in substantial economic benefits.

The “Abu Dhabi Ascent,” as the May meeting will be called, will bring Ministers as well as business, finance, and civil society leaders together to develop a range of proposals for action and determine how their countries, businesses and organizations may become more involved in various initiatives so that partnerships can be broadened and deepened to deliver concrete action at the Summit.

The Secretary-General welcomed the UAE’s offer to host this meeting.  “The UAE initiative to host the Abu Dhabi Ascent is an important concrete contribution to the Summit. This meeting is a critical milepost on the way that will help build the momentum we need for a successful Climate Summit.  I look forward to working with all leaders to ensure that the Summit catalyzes major steps on the ground and towards an ambitious global climate agreement.”

“The United Arab Emirates is at the forefront of international efforts to mitigate climate change,” said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber. “As a key mitigation strategy, the UAE has made significant investments to develop and deploy clean energy technologies globally.”

“The high level meeting in Abu Dhabi will be integral in encouraging and enhancing commitments from the public-private sectors and ensuring the Summit in New York is a success.”

By spurring action on climate change, the Abu Dhabi Ascent leading up to the Climate Summit will complement and boost momentum toward a climate change agreement at the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015.

More  information on the Summit can be found at www.un.org/climatechange/summit2014/

For more information, please contact: Dan Shepard of the UN Department of Public Information,
1-212-963-9495, shepard@un.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

from: Langston James Goree VI of Canada - 
January 24, 2014

 

 

cid:30C3541D-D221-4553-8D97-F78588948366

 

 

Langston James Goree VI via lists.iisd.ca 
Jan 24 (2 days ago)

to Energy-l

 

 

cid:30C3541D-D221-4553-8D97-F78588948366

 

 

 

World Future Energy Summit (WFES) 2014

 

20-22 January 2014 | Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

 

 

 

www.iisd.ca/irena/irenaa4/

 

 

 

The summary of this meeting is now available in PDF format at www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/sd/crsvol187num14e.pdf and in HTML format at www.iisd.ca/irena/irenaa4/html/crsvol187num14e.html 

 

 

 

20-22 January 2014 | Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

 

 

 

www.iisd.ca/irena/irenaa4/

 

 

 

The summary of this meeting is now available in PDF format at www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/sd/crsvol187num14e.pdf and in HTML format at www.iisd.ca/irena/irenaa4/html/crsvol187num14e.html 

 

 

The World Future Energy Summit (WFES) took place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 20 to 22 January.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) organized and participated in a range of events at the Summit.

This report summarizes discussions at select IRENA events including side events on the Global Atlas for Renewable Energy, Financing the Africa Clean Energy Corridor, Risk Coverage for Renewable Energy Investment, Project Navigator, Grid Integration and Energy Storage, Renewable Energy Investment in the Gulf Cooperation Council and Business Models for Renewable Energy Deployment in Cities.

The report also covers the Renewable Energy Ministerial Roundtable.

——————————-

Looking at the report we found of special interest the

RENEWABLE ENERGY MINISTERIAL ROUNDTABLE

as it was focused at a politically important constituency – Small Islands Independent States – SIDS – who will have their meeting right  ahead of the 2014 UN General Assembly.

On Monday evening, IRENA Director-General Amin moderated the high-level roundtable on renewable energy. Referring to the High-level Discussion on the IRENA preparations for the 3rd International Conference on small island developing States (SIDS), he asked delegates how IRENA can assist in the upscaling and implementation of renewable energy.

Prime Minister Henry Tuakeu Puna, Cook Islands, introduced the blue-green economy concept with several examples, including green tourism development, sanitation, fisheries and marine protected areas. Noting that SIDS are scattered throughout the world, he encouraged attending ministers and delegates to work together.

Rolph Payet, Minister of Environment and Energy, Seychelles, lauded IRENA for placing emphasis on renewable energy development in SIDS. He underscored that in small islands, energy provision is linked to other issues, such as tourism and waste management, suggesting waste-to-energy developments.

Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Environment and Energy, Maldives, asked how investments in renewable energy and waste management could be coupled.

Prime Minister Siale?ataongo Tu?ivakan?, Tonga, stressed affordability in the provision of clean energy, calling on IRENA as a transparent authority on the matter to build public support.

Josephine Stowers, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Samoa, expressed gratitude for the financial assistance provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and IRENA, suggesting the launch of a pacific partnership on renewables at the 3rd International Conference on SIDS in Samoa in September 2014.

Vete Sakaio, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Public Utilities, Tuvalu, underscored his country’s commitment and political will on sustainable development, stating that Tuvalu aims to have 100% renewable energy by 2020.

Mike Burrell, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand, commended IRENA’s strong leadership to encourage the growth of renewable energy in New Zealand and with its SIDS partners.

Director-General Amin concluded with the suggestion that IRENA could support studies and capacity building focused on, inter alia: grid extension and grid stability; technology briefs on options to reduce inter-island diesel consumption and renewable alternatives for inter-island transportation; and desalination alternatives

Also of political interest was the meeting organized by the Mayor of the second largest Cypriote municipality and who had on board a technical speaker from Israel.

The side event on the Global Atlas for Renewable Energy took place on Monday afternoon, moderated by Nicolas Fichaux, IRENA.

Fichaux highlighted that 65 countries currently participate in the initiative that includes all six renewables covered by IRENA’s mandate. He explained that the Atlas provides an open access and full dataset for a variety of user groups.

Referring to ongoing activities in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region, Nicola Bugatti, ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, highlighted efforts to provide regional and country-level data on renewable energy, including country profiles, interactive maps, analyses and trends.

Jake Badger, Technical University of Denmark, described the Wind Atlas, emphasizing, inter alia: micro-scale modeling; wind resource data accounting with high-resolution effects; unified methodology for benchmarking among different countries and regions; and aggregated data and upscaled analyses for energy planners and policymakers.

Lionel Menard, MINES Paris Tech, discussed a data catalogue which conducts “metadata exercises” to gather information, serving as a brokering machine to describe energy resources in a unified, open, standard and interoperable format.

Thomas Wanderer, German Aerospace Centre, stressed linking socioeconomic data within the Atlas, including technical implications, country profiles, energy-use statistics and policy relevant information.

Jacinto Estima, Masdar Institute, and Xabier Nicuesa, National Renewable Energy Center, Spain, presented the universal data reader to make wind and solar energy data visible and comprehensive, expressing the need for scalable data sets and data about relevant time and seasonal variation.

Daniel Getman, National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), US, referred to NREL’s participation in the Atlas’s initial design and development, emphasizing the importance of sharing data and using standardized data in order to be compatible with IRENA’s Atlas.

During discussion, participants addressed: dissemination plans for the Atlas; a focus on data quality; and collaboration with relevant partners.

But then when it came to Africa we found in the report lots of dreams that prove nothing was learned as of yet. Money just does not fall of trees and we feel this part has to be restudied or else there will be no progress in Africa.

The report says:

FINANCING THE AFRICA CLEAN ENERGY CORRIDOR

The side event on financing the Africa Clean Energy Corridor took place on Monday afternoon. IRENA Deputy Director-General Frank Wouters introduced the initiative that seeks to link power systems from ‘Cairo to Cape Town.’

Isaac Kiva, Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, Kenya, discussed experiences in Kenya. He listed risks, such as: integrity of measurement; commercial viability; and political stability, and shared the experience of setting up a risk mitigation facility to help private sector investment in drilling for geothermal potential.

Ingolf Dietrich, German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, expressed support for the Africa Clean Energy Corridor, highlighting the strong signal it sends on the importance of a regional approach. He discussed issues that complicate project viability and bankability, highlighting political stability and capacity.

Youssef Arfaoui, African Development Bank, shared experiences on concessional funding instruments such as the Clean Investments Fund and the Clean Technology Fund. He referenced projects in Kenya carried out in collaboration with the government that use Partial Risk Guarantees. He also discussed experiences in Djibouti where geothermal drilling was completed to confirm resources before the private sector joined, thus enabling the public sector.

Michael Eckhart, Citigroup, Inc., differentiated the Citigroup’s approach to finance, emphasizing that its clients are corporations, not governments, and encouraged parties interested in bringing Citigroup to Africa to do so by going through their clients. He highlighted the recent Green Bond Principles that provide voluntary guidelines for the development and issuance of Green Bonds, underscoring that if 10 to 20% of the US$ 7 trillion a year bond market were to go green, there would be more funding for Africa to access.

Mokgadi Modise, Department of Energy, South Africa, shared the South African experience with public private partnerships used to protect customers from increased energy costs. Dietrich commented that the bidding system deployed in South Africa is an inspiration to addressing the challenges with the feed-in tariff system in Germany.

More enlightening was the side event “Renewable energy investment in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), moving beyond targets: opportunities and challenges” took place on Wednesday morning and afternoon in partnership with the UAE Ministry for Foreign Affairs, IRENA and the Renewable Energy Industry Advisory Board (RIAB) of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

WELCOMING REMARKS: Matar Al Neyadi, Undersecretary of Energy, UAE, welcomed participants to a special session of the RIAB of IEA and IRENA, reflecting the GCC’s regional priority on renewable energy deployment. He clarified that the discussion has evolved from a focus on the business case for renewable energy to how to meet ambitious targets and sustain economic growth to unlock the renewable energy potential in the region.

Roberto Vigotti, IEA, discussed RIAB’s work with selected volunteers to provide strategic advice and participate in outreach initiatives and highlighted upcoming events.

 Hans Jorgen Koch, Chair of IEA Working Party on Renewable Energy Technologies, IEA, drew attention to challenges to a low-carbon economy posed by fossil fuel subsidies, calling for a delicate and balanced approach to resolution.

Maria van der Hoeven, IEA, spoke of global shifting trends in supply and demand for energy that has opened the market in the GCC, acknowledging drivers such as economic growth, availability of natural resources and ambition.

IRENA Director-General Amin noted the increasing clarity of opportunities in the region, stressing that the way forward is through transparent policy frameworks, value addition and interconnected grids. On finance, he addressed the need to de-risk investments potentially through a multilateral framework.

Arthouros Zervos, Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), noted growth that is shifting the role of the GCC region from a fossil fuel exporter to a leader in renewable energy.  AND WE HOPE THESE WERE NOT JUST COMPLIMENTS.

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

UAE – Global leaders to discuss renewable energy today

MENAFN – Khaleej Times – 21/01/2014

ABU DHABI – Global leaders, decision-makers, technologists and business executives are assembling in the capital today to discuss matters relating to renewable energy.The World Future Energy Conference (WFES), which is the largest summit of energy experts, will share the best international practices, unveil new products and discuss sustainable solutions to tackle present and future energy challenges.

As the centerpiece of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, WFES 2014 expects to receive 30,000 attendees from over 172 countries, up from the 152 countries that participated last year.

Held under the patronage of General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the seventh edition of the World Future Energy Summit runs from January 20-22, 2014 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre on the theme ‘Powering the Future of Energy Innovation and Investment.’

Since its inception in 2008, WFES has grown to become the leading discussion platform for renewable energy, clean technology and sustainability, and it is now considered the pre-eminent international event for government and industry decision makers to find viable, sustainable solutions to the world’s growing energy challenges.

Hosted by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, WFES 2014 is the centerpiece of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, the largest ever gathering on sustainability in the Middle East. The event comprises a world-class conference that offers an unparalleled forum for political, business and intellectual debate and a large-scale exhibition which facilitates networking and transactions between manufacturers, suppliers and customers across both the public and private sectors.

Global decision and opinion makers include UAE Minister of Energy Suhail bin Mohamed Faraj Fares Al Mazrouei; Rachel Kyte, vice-president for sustainable development at the World Bank; and Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency. Around 125 speakers will address delegates during the conference programme, on topics such as waste-to-energy, natural gas and the evolving energy mix, energy efficiency, and renewable technology innovation.

Other high-level speakers at the event include Marie-Jose Nadeau, president of the World Energy Council; Saif Al Sayari, executive officer of energy solutions, Taqa; Santiago Seage, CEO of Abengoa Solar; and Kazuo Furukawa, chairman of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation. More than 900 exhibiting companies will take part in WFES, International Water Summit, and the inaugural EcoWASTE, with more than 200 new products to be unveiled at the three shows. New and expanded exhibition features at WFES this year include the Project and Finance Village, showcasing over 20 renewable energy projects from the region and beyond.

 

UAE – 15 years jail for woman who tortured and beat maid to death

MENAFN – Khaleej Times – January 21, 2014 from Abu Dhabi – The torture caused severe injuries to the Ethiopian maid, which got infected due to lack of medical treatment and led, along with other factors, to her death.

A woman accused of torturing her two housemaids, and beating and abusing them regularly – resulting in the death of one of them – has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. The 45-year-old Emirati, R.A., who works as a public relations officer, is believed to have subjected her Ethiopian and Filipina maids to daily beatings, and physical and mental torture.

The torture caused severe injuries to the Ethiopian maid, which got infected due to lack of medical treatment and led, along with other factors, to her death. R.A. has been given an additional one month in jail by the Court of First Instance for denying the victim medical treatment.

Her husband, a 42-year-old policeman, A.A., who allegedly watched R.A. physically abuse the maids and deprive them of their freedom by locking them up in the bathroom, has been sentenced to three years in prison for being an accessory to the crimes. He tightly secured his villa in Nad-Al-Hamar to prevent the maids from escaping.

The couple earlier denied charges of false imprisonment, deprivation of freedom with the use of force, physical and mental torture to death and causing bodily harm.

The Filipina maid, 29, who survived the torture, which lasted for a couple of months, told the prosecutor that her employer used to beat her, and deny her food. She also forced her to drink a mix of detergents when she was dissatisfied with the cleaning of the toilet.

The maid said R.A. threatened her with jail and intimidated her with their connections in the police and immigration.

R.A. locked the two maids in the bathroom fixed with a camera, through which she would monitor them after she left for work in the morning. She also photographed them in compromising positions and threatened to make the pictures public.

She fed the victims a piece of onion, sugar and salt for five days. She gave better food to the deceased maid after she lost consciousness due to the constant beating and malnutrition. The victim’s injuries got infected, but R.A. refused to take her to the hospital due to the fear of being held accountable.

A forensic expert said the deceased weighed only 37kg when she died. Torture, malnutrition and negligence of injuries contributed to her death. The victim’s blood sample also contained traces of a pesticide.

The verdict is subject to appeal within 15 days.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

IT IS ALL ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY – Direct Solar and Wind Energy that can replace fossil carbon already now!
When it comes to heavy trucks – the CNG industry comes into play as well – so it is not just that electricity replaces the need for gasoline – but natural gas will replace the need for diesel as well – so here we will ask ourselves eventually – who still needs a petroleum refinery?

http://i1.wp.com/cleantechnica.com/files/2013/04/wind-turbine-solar-panel-globe.jpg

 

17 Cleantech Champions

 cleantechnica.com/2014/01/01/10-c…

17 Cleantech Champions
by Zachary Shahan
CleanTechnica

There are actually thousands of cleantech champions out there, and many of them are CleanTechnica readers. I was actually a bit hesitant to make this list because of that – there are going to be a lot of people not on this list that really could be. However, in honor of the tremendous work some of these people are doing, I felt compelled to write this up.

Importantly, beyond the main work they are doing, this piece is particularly focused on highlighting cleantech leaders who make their presence and views known in the public eye. We’re in the business in moving the public pendulum towards cleantech, and I greatly value the cleantech business and science leaders who also do so…

1. ELON MUSK – Tesla Motors, Solar City …

JIGAR SHAH -  SunEdison, Carbon War Room, Jigar Shah Consulting …

3. CARLOS GOSH – Nissan, Renault, Electic Vehicles …

4. DENISE BODE – AWEA (Wind Energy)

5. Mark Z. Jacobson – Renewable Energy for New York

6. DANNY KENNEDY – Sungevity Solar, The Solar Foundation, Solar on the White House …

LYNN JURICH – SunRun …

8. HERMANN SCHEER – died 2010, was Member of German Parliament who fought for Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) …

9. LISA JACKSON (US EPA) & STEVEN CHU (US Department of Energy) – for their leadership

10. BILLY PARISH – Solar Mosaic

11. SULTAN AHMED AL JABER – Masdar, AbuDhabi

12.  ADNAN Z. AMIN – IRENA, Abu Dhabi

13. BOB LUTZ – GM Cherry Volt, Via Motors VTRUX – an electric car proponent despite being a conservative Global Warming denier.

14. AL GORE – Global Warming tied to fossil fuels.

15. NAWAL AL-HOSANY – Masdar and the Zayed Future Energy Prize. Abu Dhabi

16. DAN YATES & ALEX LASKEY – Opower

17. PAUL SCOTT – Plug-In America, Nissan Leaf

 

 

Where the Green Jobs Will Be in 2014
by Jigar Shah
LinkedIn

In the movie, “The Graduate,” Dustin Hoffman returned home from college and got one word of career advice: “Plastics.”

 

That was 1967 – and 35 years later, words are “solar, buildings, and heavy trucks.”Maybe the hottest of the three is solar.Each sector and others add up to jobs.

Luckily, a decade ago, maybe I was just young and crazy – or ahead of my time by accident.But, my “plastics” was clearly “solar.” The result was that I used it to be part of building a multi-billion dollar industry.  Since then, I have been privileged to build wealth in many other sectors within the resource efficiency space including batteries, solar hot water, and hydroponic greenhouses.

The wealth I am talking about is not a few people making millions, but millions of people making a real living. So let’s look at why there is a huge demand in these areas – and what jobs need to be filled in this new world I call “Climate Wealth.”

The demand is driven by the fact that across the broader resource efficiency industry, renewable energy costs have declined while traditional-energy costs have risen.Since 1999, fuel budgets are up 300 percent and electricity bills up 25 percent.These market dynamics make it clear that there is a real opportunity for stably priced, clean energy solutions that save people money.

First, the solar industry, now at $13 billion, has added more than 15,000 people in 2013 and looks to increase hiring in 2014. Compared to a decade ago, solar has stabilized as an industry. And, the past year, solar stocks have risen 140 percent. Notable names like Solar City and SunEdison have more than doubled in the past year. Their stock rise is driven by a realization by most investors that solar can now be cost effective without government subsidies.

There are emerging hot growth markets in Minnesota, Georgia, and Iowa plus continuing growth in existing hot geographic markets like Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington DC.With this level of broad support, the solar industry will be adding jobs at a feverish clip next year.

Many of the open positions are in sales, construction and project management. Plus, there are many open positions in marketing, public relations, accounting, data analysis, and finance. A good starting point to find open positions is the Solar Energy Industries Association website – seia.org.

Second, since 1975, the energy efficiency retrofit industry has always had promise but failed to really hit the mark. But 2014 is looking very different. The big growth area is in continuous commissioning of buildings – otherwise known as Big Data. Companies like Intel, IBM, AT&T, Siemens, Johnson Controls, Schneider Electric, SCIEnergy, Building IQ, Entouch, Informa and others have finished their R&D and raised the growth capital they need to accelerate deployment in 2014.

These companies work with existing building management systems that have been largely collecting dust for over 20 years. The data from these systems can be fed real-time into the “cloud” allowing Big Data companies to pinpoint where the building is losing energy and often fix the problems remotely. In some cases, specific instructions can be sent to the building owners on low cost and no costs repairs and upgrade that maintenance crews can fix during routine rounds.

Navigant Consulting predicts that annual revenue in the building management systems space worldwide will grow from $56.9 billion in 2013 to $100.8 billion by 2021.2014 will be about getting their products into the marketplace at scale.To do so, they need sales people and data specialists – probably more than 1,000 of them per month.

Third, the heavy truck industry will also see a big focus in 2014.Peterbilt and others sold more natural gas trucks in 2013 than ever before. According to the American Trucking Research Institute, diesel costs over $0.59/mile, compared to less than $0.25/mile for natural gas.

As more natural gas trucks get on the road, folks driving diesel trucks are being priced out of the market. That means diesel truck owners have to buy a new truck or retrofit their existing trucks to burn up to 50 percent natural gas. They can also add some aerodynamics and anti-idling solutions to stay competitive.

Companies have been selling these technologies for 15+ years – since I was working as a contractor to the Department of Energy. What’s different today is not $4/gallon diesel – it is the competitive threat of all of the new natural gas vehicles hitting the market place.

There will construction jobs for new refueling stations, mechanics needed to repair these natural gas systems, manufacturing jobs in the USA to keep the inventory stocked, sales jobs, and training for thousands of shops that want to learn how to perform these retrofits.T. Boone Pickens was right, but his timing was off because of the lack of help from Washington DC.So the USA spent $150B more for diesel since 2008 than necessary, but as Winston Churchill said, Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing after they exhaust all other options.

Other industries are going to turn the corner in 2014 with the bulk of their job growth probably coming in 2015.These industries include local agriculture solutions, solar hot water, battery storage for buildings, transoceanic ship retrofits, combined heat and power, car sharing, and many other resource efficiency industries.With over 100,000 companies in the United States alone that are gearing up for these opportunities – resource-efficiency solutions look to represent the largest wealth creation opportunity of a generation.

The resource-efficiency sector will have at least a 40-year growth span for jobs and careers. “Plastics” has officially been replaced.

Photo: Elena Elisseeva / shutterstock

www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140107161202-258664-where-the-green-jobs-will-be-in-2014?goback=.nmp_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1&trk=object-title?goback=.nmp_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1&trk=object-title

 


17 Cleantech Champions


Image Credit: Solar panel, wind turbine & globe via Shutterstock

There are actually thousands of cleantech champions out there, and many of them are CleanTechnica readers. I was actually a bit hesitant to make this list because of that — there are going to be a lot of people not on this list that really could be. However, in honor of the tremendous work some of these people are doing, I felt compelled to write this up.

Importantly, beyond the main work they are doing, this piece is particularly focused on highlighting cleantech leaders who make their presence and views known in the public eye. We’re in the business in moving the public pendulum towards cleantech, and I greatly value the cleantech business and science leaders who also do so. Lack of awareness and lack of the strong citizen/political push that could come from greater awareness are perhaps now the largest barriers to the cleantech revolution. We need cleantech leaders and “business celebrities” or “political celebrities” who really know the story to get out there and help in informing the public.

17. Paul Scott 

Founder of Plug In America, leading Nissan Leaf salesman, former solar salesman. Overall, one of the leading EV advocates in the world, and has been for a long time. Gets out there and writes articles on sites such as CleanTechnica, and also good at coming up with grand ideas for getting more attention on electric cars.

Where to follow Paul online? Twitter

16. Opower guys, Dan Yates & Alex Laskey

Dan & Alex co-founded what has become perhaps the best home energy management company in the world. They also do a good job of getting out into the public eye and giving excellent presentations.

Where to follow Dan & Alex online? Dan: Twitter. Alex: Twitter?

15. Nawal Al-Hosany

Dr Nawal Al-Hosany is director of sustainability at Masdar and also the director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize. With Masdar being a $15 billion effort to become something like the Silicon Valley of cleantech, her leaders is pretty huge. Nonetheless, Nawal somehow finds a way to provide CleanTechnica and others with original guest posts and interviews in order to advance global cleantech awareness.

Where to follow Nawal online? Twitter and maybe also LinkedIn

14. Al Gore

As one of the most notable figures working to fight global warming, Al has to be on this list. While he focuses a lot on the problems of global warming and fossil fuels (not exactly the focus of this list), he also delves into cleantech topics quite a bit. And there’s really no possibility to untie the important global warming–cleantech link.

Where to follow Al online? Google+Twitterhis blog

13. Bob Lutz

Bob was a key GM notable behind the Chevy Volt. He is also now pioneering electric trucks with the Via Motors VTRUX. Bob gotten on Fox News and also written articles on conservative media outlets — places where he has some sway as a global warming-denying extreme conservative — in order to defend electric vehicles. Despite coming from a career in the highly entrenched auto industry, Bob says that an “electric car future [is] definitely coming.”

Where to follow Bob online? Good question…

12. Adnan Z Amin

Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency. I think that says enough, but I’ll add that Adnan gets out there and writes some great articles on blogs around the world (including here). Furthermore, he gives some of the best presentations out there on renewable energy.

Where to follow Adnan online? Good question…

11. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber

I’ve already mentioned Masdar. Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is the CEO of this cleantech monster. The responsibility of that massive effort must create quite a bit of pressure, yet this CEO seems to handle the position with tremendous ease and coolness. He also delivers exceptional presentations on a variety of cleantech matters. Hopefully I’ll be able to nab an interview with him at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, but I’m not so sure — last year, he was very quickly zipped in and out of the numerous events where he was speaking.

Where to follow Al Jaber online? Huffington Post?



10. Billy Parish

Billy is the co-founder and president of Mosaic (originally termed Solar Mosaic). Mosaic is already having a big effect in the solar energy space through the possibility of decentralized investment in solar energy projects — solar energy investing for “the common Joe.” But Mosaic’s offering still hasn’t hit the majority of the US or other countries (at least, the option for “the common Joe” to invest hasn’t). I think it will see tremendous growth in the years to come, but even if it didn’t, it has had a profound impact on the solar energy market. Billy does an excellent job of getting the good solar word out there to the public, which includes posting articles here on CleanTechnica. Overall, Mosaic’s blog is one of the best solar blogs around, which I assume Billy has had some influence over.

Where to follow Billy online? Twitter

9. Lisa Jackson & Steven Chu

Both Lisa and Steven were exceptional in the roles as the director of the EPA and US Secretary of Energy, respectively. I think they would have done even much more if not held back by higher-ups, but even with the opportunities they were given, they were excellent at promoting cleantech and cutting into the harm caused by fossil fuels. Lisa and Steven stepped down from the roles in the US government this year, but both have gone on to do other important work in the cleantech space. Lisa is actually now the vice president of environmental initiatives at Apple, the high-valued brand in the world. Lisa and Steven were both often in the public eye and were very good public communicators and verbal champions of the cleantech revolution.

When a popular Onion joke about Steven sleeping with a solar panel came out, the clever Nobel-prize winner put out a great response:

“I just want everyone to know that my decision not to serve a second term as Energy Secretary has absolutely nothing to do with the allegations made in this week’s edition of the Onion. While I’m not going to confirm or deny the charges specifically, I will say that clean, renewable solar power is a growing source of U.S. jobs and is becoming more and more affordable, so it’s no surprise that lots of Americans are falling in love with solar.”

Where to follow Lisa & Steven online? Lisa: Twitter. Steven: good question… (Steven, please share a bit with us on Google+ or Twitter! I suggest Google+ since it has a little bit of math in its name.)

8. Hermann Scheer

I was initially making this list about current cleantech champions, but then Herman Scheer came to mind and I couldn’t leave him out. If he were alive today, he’d surely be higher up on this list. Hermann was one of the key people behind the German feed-in tariff (FiT), which has transformed renewable energy sectors, especially the solar energy sector, globally. I would say that the FiT is inarguably the most important renewable energy policy in history, and Hermann was crucial to its implementation.

Unfortunately, Hermann did rather suddenly in 2010 at the age of 69. As summarized on Wikipedia: “Fourteen days before his death he was seen live on German television[7] making a statement in the Bundestag about a highly explosive (“hochbrisant”) 60 billion euro breach of contract (“Vertragsbruch”) by Germany’s privately owned nuclear power corporations.[8] He suddenly died in a hospital in Berlin from heart failure[9] after an unspecified short and severe illness.[10]

6 (tie). Lynn Jurich

Lynn Jurich is the co-founder and co-CEO of Sunrun, which pioneered solar leasing and PPAs for homeowners and is now apparently the “#1 home solar company.” The rather short Wikipedia bio for Lynn is actually quite good, so I’ll just use that here: “Jurich was named as one of the Ten Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs by Fortune in 2009, and received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 award in Northern California together with SunRun co-founder Ed Fenster. Jurich serves on the Sierra Club Foundation Board of Directors and holds an MBA and BS from Stanford University.” I haven’t seen Lynn in the public eye much, but I have seen one or two videos with her.

Where to follow Lynn online? Good question…

6 (tie). Danny Kennedy

Danny Kennedy came from a Greenpeace background to start up one of the biggest solar companies in the world, Sungevity. He’s now the president of Sungevity and also serves on the boards of The Solar Foundation and Mosaic. Other notable side projects include spearheading the “Solar on the White House” push and writing Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy—and Our Planet—from Dirty Energy. Danny is quite often interviewed by the media and does an excellent job — perhaps the best around — at communicating the… well, rooftop revolution. A couple of videos I highly, highly recommend are this TEDx talk and this recent interview on Bloomberg TV.

Where to follow Danny online? Twitter (where he even does solar-inspired shout-outs to little guys like me) and Google+ (one of the first cleantech leaders I’ve seen there).

5. Mark Z Jacobson

Mark Z Jacobson has done exceptional research in the renewable energy sector. But that’s obviously not enough to land someone on this list. Mark has also led by getting the word out (perhaps more than anyone else) that renewable energy is indeed capable of powering the world with current technology, and cost competitive. This year, he even showed up on the Late Show with David Letterman to talk about powering New York with renewable energy.

Where to follow Mark online? Twitter (he even posts drafts of research he’s working on there!)

4. Denise Bode

She actually stepped down from her role as the CEO of AWEA around this time last year, but she was so instrumental and so effective at growing the wind energy business in the US (and, thus, globally), that I thought she deserved to be pretty high on this list. For a number of reasons, wind energy is further along (as far as low costs and high capacity) than solar energy. Denise was an excellent face and voice of the wind industry, and even had the courage and ability to go to battle with misinformants on Fox News. As a Republican, she had a bit more sway with Republican politicians, voters, and media agencies, but she still had to battle with a massive amount of misinformation there. And I think she did that exceptionally well.

Where to follow Denise online? Huffington Post?

3. Carlos Ghosn

Alongside Elon Musk (sorry, he didn’t make the list ;) ), Carlos Ghosn is probably the most notable EV advocate out there. As the head of both Nissan and Renault (Chairman & CEO of both), he also has a lot of power to make magic happen. Right now, with a couple of medium-market EV models available and a fairly aggressive push to have his companies lead the electric revolution, Carlos definitely claims the top spot for electric vehicle sales. Also, I just love this man. His comments are so spot-on, so sharp, and cut through the BS faster than Fox News creates it (well, I guess I wouldn’t go that far). I love his attitude and his wicked-fast mind, and I look forward to seeing him continue to transform and grow Nissan and Renault.

Where to follow Carlos online? Good question….

1. Jigar Shah

I had a really hard time deciding which one of these top two people should be #1, so I finally decided to make it a tie. Jigar Shah founded SunEdison, which pioneered a financing model that would lead to explosive growth in the solar industry. He grew SunEdison into a solar giant and then moved on to other things. From 2009 to 2012, Jigar was the CEO of the Carbon War Room, “a global organization founded by Richard Branson and Virgin Unite to harness the power of entrepreneurship to unlock the potential of proven climate change solution technologies to be deployed at scale,” as Wikipedia summarizes it. He was fundamental in the growth and influence of the Carbon War Room, but then moved on to consulting as CEO of Jigar Shah Consulting (odd name…). Jigar serves on the board of more cleantech startups than there are months in the year, probably more than there are days in the month — I’d actually be curious to know the exact number. His influence in the industry is broad, deep, and powerful. He is consistently publishing insightful articles (including a CleanTechnica one with a very counter-intuitive message), answering interview questions, and participating in podcasts.

Where to follow Jigar online? TwitterGoogle+, and perhaps LinkedIn. He’s all over the place.

1. Elon Musk

Come on, this was more obvious than daylight. The man is CEO and Chief Product Architect of Tesla Motors, which has transformed the electric vehicle and arguably even the entire automobile industry. He’s also the chairman of SolarCity, one of the largest solar power companies in the world. Earlier this year, he was named to the TIME 100 list, a list of the “most influential” people in the world. He is often making public statements about solar and EVs, and he even tweets a bit.

Where to follow Elon online? Twitter, where he regularly engages with the public, makes some quite big announcements (and bigger hints), and even tweets stories from simple bloggers like me. To give an indication of his influence, Elon has nearly 500,000 followers in the land of the little blue bird, about 100 times more than the person on this list with the third-most followers (Jigar Shah — nearly 5,000) and only behind former US Vice President Al Gore, who has about 2.7 million.

 

Think I missed a beat by not including someone? Drop that person’s name in the comments below.

 

Keep up with all the hottest cleantech news & commentary here on CleanTechnica. Subscribe to our newsletter to get a roundup of our stories in your inbox every day.

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is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.


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Read more at cleantechnica.com/2014/01/01/10-cleantech-champions/#slXFlKPquLqwm5BM.99

There are actually thousands of cleantech champions out there, and many of them are CleanTechnica readers. I was actually a bit hesitant to make this list because of that — there are going to be a lot of people not on this list that really could be. However, in honor of the tremendous work some of these people are doing, I felt compelled to write this up.

Importantly, beyond the main work they are doing, this piece is particularly focused on highlighting cleantech leaders who make their presence and views known in the public eye. We’re in the business in moving the public pendulum towards cleantech, and I greatly value the cleantech business and science leaders who also do so. Lack of awareness and lack of the strong citizen/political push that could come from greater awareness are perhaps now the largest barriers to the cleantech revolution. We need cleantech leaders and “business celebrities” or “political celebrities” who really know the story to get out there and help in informing the public.

17. Paul Scott 

Founder of Plug In America, leading Nissan Leaf salesman, former solar salesman. Overall, one of the leading EV advocates in the world, and has been for a long time. Gets out there and writes articles on sites such as CleanTechnica, and also good at coming up with grand ideas for getting more attention on electric cars.

Where to follow Paul online? Twitter

16. Opower guys, Dan Yates & Alex Laskey

Dan & Alex co-founded what has become perhaps the best home energy management company in the world. They also do a good job of getting out into the public eye and giving excellent presentations.

Where to follow Dan & Alex online? Dan: Twitter. Alex: Twitter?

15. Nawal Al-Hosany

Dr Nawal Al-Hosany is director of sustainability at Masdar and also the director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize. With Masdar being a $15 billion effort to become something like the Silicon Valley of cleantech, her leaders is pretty huge. Nonetheless, Nawal somehow finds a way to provide CleanTechnica and others with original guest posts and interviews in order to advance global cleantech awareness.

Where to follow Nawal online? Twitter and maybe also LinkedIn

14. Al Gore

As one of the most notable figures working to fight global warming, Al has to be on this list. While he focuses a lot on the problems of global warming and fossil fuels (not exactly the focus of this list), he also delves into cleantech topics quite a bit. And there’s really no possibility to untie the important global warming–cleantech link.

Where to follow Al online? Google+Twitterhis blog

13. Bob Lutz

Bob was a key GM notable behind the Chevy Volt. He is also now pioneering electric trucks with the Via Motors VTRUX. Bob gotten on Fox News and also written articles on conservative media outlets — places where he has some sway as a global warming-denying extreme conservative — in order to defend electric vehicles. Despite coming from a career in the highly entrenched auto industry, Bob says that an “electric car future [is] definitely coming.”

Where to follow Bob online? Good question…

12. Adnan Z Amin

Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency. I think that says enough, but I’ll add that Adnan gets out there and writes some great articles on blogs around the world (including here). Furthermore, he gives some of the best presentations out there on renewable energy.

Where to follow Adnan online? Good question…

11. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber

I’ve already mentioned Masdar. Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is the CEO of this cleantech monster. The responsibility of that massive effort must create quite a bit of pressure, yet this CEO seems to handle the position with tremendous ease and coolness. He also delivers exceptional presentations on a variety of cleantech matters. Hopefully I’ll be able to nab an interview with him at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, but I’m not so sure — last year, he was very quickly zipped in and out of the numerous events where he was speaking.

Where to follow Al Jaber online? Huffington Post?


Read more at cleantechnica.com/2014/01/01/10-cleantech-champions/#slXFlKPquLqwm5BM.99

There are actually thousands of cleantech champions out there, and many of them are CleanTechnica readers. I was actually a bit hesitant to make this list because of that — there are going to be a lot of people not on this list that really could be. However, in honor of the tremendous work some of these people are doing, I felt compelled to write this up.

Importantly, beyond the main work they are doing, this piece is particularly focused on highlighting cleantech leaders who make their presence and views known in the public eye. We’re in the business in moving the public pendulum towards cleantech, and I greatly value the cleantech business and science leaders who also do so. Lack of awareness and lack of the strong citizen/political push that could come from greater awareness are perhaps now the largest barriers to the cleantech revolution. We need cleantech leaders and “business celebrities” or “political celebrities” who really know the story to get out there and help in informing the public.

17. Paul Scott 

Founder of Plug In America, leading Nissan Leaf salesman, former solar salesman. Overall, one of the leading EV advocates in the world, and has been for a long time. Gets out there and writes articles on sites such as CleanTechnica, and also good at coming up with grand ideas for getting more attention on electric cars.

Where to follow Paul online? Twitter

16. Opower guys, Dan Yates & Alex Laskey

Dan & Alex co-founded what has become perhaps the best home energy management company in the world. They also do a good job of getting out into the public eye and giving excellent presentations.

Where to follow Dan & Alex online? Dan: Twitter. Alex: Twitter?

15. Nawal Al-Hosany

Dr Nawal Al-Hosany is director of sustainability at Masdar and also the director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize. With Masdar being a $15 billion effort to become something like the Silicon Valley of cleantech, her leaders is pretty huge. Nonetheless, Nawal somehow finds a way to provide CleanTechnica and others with original guest posts and interviews in order to advance global cleantech awareness.

Where to follow Nawal online? Twitter and maybe also LinkedIn

14. Al Gore

As one of the most notable figures working to fight global warming, Al has to be on this list. While he focuses a lot on the problems of global warming and fossil fuels (not exactly the focus of this list), he also delves into cleantech topics quite a bit. And there’s really no possibility to untie the important global warming–cleantech link.

Where to follow Al online? Google+Twitterhis blog

13. Bob Lutz

Bob was a key GM notable behind the Chevy Volt. He is also now pioneering electric trucks with the Via Motors VTRUX. Bob gotten on Fox News and also written articles on conservative media outlets — places where he has some sway as a global warming-denying extreme conservative — in order to defend electric vehicles. Despite coming from a career in the highly entrenched auto industry, Bob says that an “electric car future [is] definitely coming.”

Where to follow Bob online? Good question…

12. Adnan Z Amin

Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency. I think that says enough, but I’ll add that Adnan gets out there and writes some great articles on blogs around the world (including here). Furthermore, he gives some of the best presentations out there on renewable energy.

Where to follow Adnan online? Good question…

11. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber

I’ve already mentioned Masdar. Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is the CEO of this cleantech monster. The responsibility of that massive effort must create quite a bit of pressure, yet this CEO seems to handle the position with tremendous ease and coolness. He also delivers exceptional presentations on a variety of cleantech matters. Hopefully I’ll be able to nab an interview with him at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, but I’m not so sure — last year, he was very quickly zipped in and out of the numerous events where he was speaking.

Where to follow Al Jaber online? Huffington Post?


Read more at cleantechnica.com/2014/01/01/10-cleantech-champions/#slXFlKPquLqwm5BM.99

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Green Prophet Headlines – Dubai exploded 400,000 fireworks in record-shattering NYE display [video]

Link to Green Prophet

mailed-by: feedburner.bounces.google.com – Dubai exploded 400,000 fireworks in record-shattering NYE display [video]

Posted: 03 Jan 2014 01:44 PM PST

guinness world records, world's largest fireworks display, the palm, world islands, artificial islands dubai, dubai fireworks, NYE Dubai, 2014 fireworks display Dubai

Dubai rang in 2014 with a record-shattering fireworks display. In an effort to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest fireworks extravaganza previously held by Kuwait, the emirate exploded a whopping 400,000 fireworks in less than 10 minutes.

Choreographed by America’s Phil Grucci, Dubai’s fireworks display was spread across 100 kilometers and lasted six full minutes.

The event took 10 months to plan and more than 200 pyrotechnicians arranged around The Palm and The World artificial islands ensured the display went off without a hitch.

Fireworks used were purchased in China, Spain and the United States, according to The National, and were hauled to the launching site by a long series of trucks.

We’re being given the challenge of breaking the world record,” said Grucci, who has worked in Dubai in the past, “so the scale of this is nothing that anybody has had the opportunity to oversee.”

Kuwait’s previous record was shattered by Dubai’s over-the-top performance, where nearly 100,000 fireworks were set off every minute.

“[Kuwait's] firework display stretched over 5 km (3.11 miles) of seafront, started at 8 p.m. and lasted 64 minutes,” according to the Guinness World Record website. “Event organizers Parente Fireworks srl and Filmmaster MEA produced the event, which included the pyrotechnic display and a lights and sound show. Preceding this, an airshow was staged in the afternoon.”

Albeit impressive, the show somehow undoes all of the small steps that Dubai has taken over the last year to become a little less environmentally destructive.

While those that saw the show were extremely impressed and lauded Dubai’s efforts to draw tourists to the city, some commentators expressed regret over the extraordinary expense and extravagance.

“When I see this and remember that Gaza has been without electricity for 40 days,” said Oussama Bargougui on YouTube “I really feel ashamed to be Arabic.”

Screengrab from Dubai Media video

—————————————————————————–

Above reminded me of the Arab UN official supervisor who at 60 years age bragged of just having had a baby.

###

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

 

 

Vertical Farms May be the Only Crop Solution for the Middle East

seawater-daytimeProposed vertical farms like this one in Dubai may be the only way for supplying food to Middle East countries.

Dickson D. Despommier is a professor of public health at Columbia University in New York, and if he gets his way, the future will be full of “vertical farms’ (a farm on every floor) in cities across the world, including major players in the Middle East.

In a recent oped column in the New York Times, Despommier looked into his crystal ball and came up with these insights as to why.

“If climate change and population growth progress at their current pace, in roughly 50 years farming as we know it will no longer exist. This means that the majority of people could soon be without enough food or water. But there is a solution that is surprisingly within reach: Move most farming into cities, and grow crops in tall, specially-constructed buildings. It’s called vertical farming.”

More comments from his insightful article:

“….apply the vertical farm concept to countries that are water-challenged — the Middle East readily comes to mind — and suddenly things look less hopeless. For this reason the world’s very first vertical farm may be established there, although the idea has garnered considerable interest from architects and governments all over the world.”

“Vertical farms are now feasible, in large part because of a robust global greenhouse initiative that has enjoyed considerable commercial success over the last 10 years. [Editor’s note: Dr. Despommier has started a business to build vertical farms. ”

“Vertical farms would also make cities more pleasant places to live. The structures themselves would be things of beauty and grace. In order to allow plants to capture passive sunlight, walls and ceilings would be completely transparent. So from a distance, it would look as if there were gardens suspended in space.”

“When people ask me why the world still does not have a single vertical farm, I just raise my eyebrows and shrug my shoulders. Perhaps people just need to see proof that farms can grow several stories high.As
soon as the first city takes that leap of faith, the world’s first vertical farm could be less than a year away from coming to the aid of a hungry, thirsty world. Not a moment too soon.”

Vertical farms in Israel and other countries in the Middle East? At the moment, it sounds like science fiction, but what the future holds, no one knows for sure.

Dr Despommier might just be on to something very, very…..vertical!

::NY Times

More on vertical farms:
Vertical Farm In Dubai Uses Seawater To Sustain Crops
Will Farmers of the Future Work in Skyscrapers?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Al-Monitor <newsletter@email.al-monitor.com>
Week in Review
Sunday, December 1, 2013

Iran deal recasts regional politics .

The “joint plan of action” agreed on by six world powers and Iran on Nov. 24 is in a short time proving to be a catalyst for a regional trend toward diplomacy and realism.

The mood is already shifting in the Gulf, where there had been resistance if not downright opposition at times to the negotiations with Iran. UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Tehran this week for meetings with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, while the Kingdom of Bahrain invited Zarif to participate in the Manama Dialogue Regional Security Summit, organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, to be held Dec. 6-8, as reported by Ali Hashem for Al-Monitor.

In perhaps the most substantial shift, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia released a statement on Nov. 25 welcoming the joint plan of action, saying, “Saudi Arabia views the agreement as a primary step toward a comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear issue provided it leads to a Middle East and Gulf region free of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.”

In Israel, despite a skeptical public and statements of alarm by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there is also awareness among national security leaders that the deal with Iran may have its advantages, and that Israel is poorly served by putting itself at odds with the international coalition that forced Iran to negotiations.

Akiva Eldar captured the broader context of the Iran deal for Israel, writing, “The agreement with Iran was signed a short time after the agreement between the United States and Russia that brought about the removal of chemical weapons from Syria. Thus a much more concrete and immediate threat than the Iranian one was removed from the borders of Israel. The decision of the powers to wave a stick instead of landing a blow on the Iranian protectorate in Damascus should have signaled to Netanyahu that this would also be the route they chose to take in the talks with Tehran. It stands to reason that Iran will now be invited to contribute to a renewed effort to end the cruel civil war in Syria. We are witness to the beginning of Iran’s emergence from the international solitary confinement it entered following the revolution in 1979.”

Ben Caspit reports from Jerusalem, “There’s no panic at all among Israel’s professional military echelons. Nobody talks about a catastrophe or an imminent second Holocaust. People discuss the merits of the agreement with levelheadedness and discretion. After all, doomsday prophecies are not their thing. For this, we have Netanyahu.”

Dan Meridor, a member of the Likud Party and former deputy prime minister and minister of intelligence and atomic energy under Netanyahu, told Al-Monitor’s Mazal Mualem this week, “It’s a mistake to pick a fight with partners when we’re in the midst of a campaign against Iran, in which the Americans have the main role. Embarking on an offensive of attacks, criticism and scorekeeping harms the common struggle of large parts of the world, the United States, Europe and the Arab countries. The disputes do not help the struggle, but just give the Iranians a reason to gloat. Nothing is achieved by public disputes. The alliance between Israel and the United States is an important component of our powerful image. … Israel needs to be part of the world, to be a partner in this campaign.”

In the United States, there is popular support for the agreement with Iran. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released this week revealed that 44% of Americans support the interim agreement with Iran and only 22% oppose.

In Congress, while there is still skepticism about the deal, there also seems to be a trend toward legislation that emphasizes a congressional role in Iran’s compliance with the terms of the deal, rather than the introduction of new sanctions, during the six-month negotiation period. The Iran Nuclear Compliance Act of 2013, introduced Nov. 21 by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is now pending before the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which has Senate jurisdiction on sanctions bills.

As reported here last week, the man to watch is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who told NPR’s Diane Rehm that the interim agreement is an “important first step” and that he will look to both Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, on whether the Senate should hold hearings and consider more sanctions.

The conversations that have begun about Iran’s nuclear program are already having consequences beyond the nuclear file, including the Gulf, Turkey and Syria. While Kadri Gursel writes that the Turkish “reset” from its failed sectarian policies may require even deeper political changes, Ankara’s shift, which is a work in progress, is already good news for a political solution in Syria, especially with the Geneva II conference to be held on Jan. 22. A real peace process in Syria would mean relief for Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, those countries most affected by the spillover of the war, the spike in terrorism and the flood of refugees.

A stable Syrian government, resulting from a successful Geneva II political process, perhaps following elections, would offer a chance for an Israel-Lebanon-Syria peace process. This would mean the eventual demilitarization of Hezbollah, whose raison d’etre is resistance to Israel’s occupation. The reintegration of Hezbollah forces into the Lebanese army and the normalization of Hezbollah solely as a Lebanese political party, and not an armed resistance force, would be a giant step toward solving Lebanon’s perpetual national crisis.

Any deal on Hezbollah would run through Damascus and Tehran, via Moscow’s good offices, en route to Jerusalem, as this column reported last week. While the United States cannot broker this deal, the future of Hezbollah is directly connected to the nuclear negotiations with Iran. For Iran to get relief from US oil and financial sanctions under the Iran Sanctions Act, the president must certify to Congress that Iran no longer seeks weapons of mass destruction, is no longer a state sponsor of terrorism and no longer represents a significant threat to US national security interests and allies. Hezbollah is considered a terrorist group by the United States. So questions about Iran’s nuclear program and its role in the region, including support for Hezbollah, are the endgame in any discussion of a comprehensive agreement.

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