Egyptian diplomat leads race to be UNESCO head

Moushira Khattab (L) and Vera El-Khoury Lacoeuilhe.
Updated 08 October 2017
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Egyptian diplomat leads race to be UNESCO head

JEDDAH: An Egyptian diplomat is among the favorites to be the next head of UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency.
Moushira Khattab, 73, a former minister of family and population and a leading activist for women’s and children’s rights, is one of four Arab candidates. The others are Vera El-Khoury from Lebanon, Saleh Mahdi Al-Hasnawi from Iraq and former Qatari Culture Minister Hamad bin Abdul Aziz Al-Kawari.
If Khattab wins, she would be the first person from Africa to lead UNESCO in its 72-year history.
She is a former assistant minister of foreign affairs and ambassador to South Africa, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
“Ambassador Moushira Khattab has long diplomatic experience, and she knows how to deal with many files related to many humanitarian issues and therefore can very much meet the requirements of the new position,” Malek Awny, managing editor of Al-Ahram Foundation’s International Politics Journal, told Arab News.
“I think that the changes that have taken place in the Arab scene during the last few months may witness an Arab stance that strongly supports Ambassador Khattab.”
African support from neighboring countries also increased the likelihood of Khattab’s winning the post, said Awny. “Egypt’s evolving position on the Arab and African arena may be an important voting bloc that supports the ambassador’s candidacy.
“I think she is the best and most capable to perform such task.”
Al-Kawari, the cultural adviser to the emir of Qatar and former ambassador to France, the US and the UN, was his country’s first culture minister from 2008 to 2016.
His chances may be damaged by the dispute between Qatar and the Anti-Terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain over Doha’s support and funding for terrorism.
Voting by secret ballot of UNESCO’s 58-member executive board begins in Paris on Monday. If no candidate wins a majority, voting will continue daily until Oct. 13, when there will be a final choice between the two remaining candidates with most votes.
If the result is a tie, the winner will be chosen by drawing lots. The new director-general will be confirmed at the UNESCO General Conference in November.


Iranian navy mounts new defense system on warship

Updated 10 min 26 sec ago
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Iranian navy mounts new defense system on warship

  • The US military’s Central Command confirms it has seen increased Iranian naval activity
  • Iran has developed a large domestic weapons industry to achieve self-sufficiency

DUBAI: Iran’s navy has mounted a locally built advanced defensive weapons system on one of its warships for the first time, the Iranian navy chief was quoted as saying on Saturday, as tensions mount with the US military in the Gulf.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed earlier this month it held war games in the Gulf, saying they were aimed at “confronting possible threats” by enemies.
The US military’s Central Command confirmed it had seen increased Iranian naval activity, extending to the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for oil shipments the Revolutionary Guards have threatened to block.
Iran has been furious over US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and re-impose sanctions on Tehran.
Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi “reiterated that coastal and sea testing of the short range defense Kamand system were concluded successfully, and said this system was mounted ... on a warship and will be mounted on a second ship soon,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported,
The Kamand has been dubbed the “Iranian Phalanx” after an automated machine gun produced by US firm Raytheon whose heavy bullets shred incoming missiles.
Unable to import many weapons because of international sanctions and arms embargoes, Iran has developed a large domestic weapons industry to achieve self-sufficiency in producing military equipment, and often reports on its development of arms which it says are comparable with advanced Western systems.