Erdogan: Assad is ‘a terrorist’

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting at the presidential palace in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017. Erdogan is railing against the United Arab Emirates' Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan who re-tweeted a post that accused the Turkish leader's Ottoman "forefathers" of mistreating Arabs and stealing manuscripts from the holy city of Medina.(AP)
Updated 28 December 2017
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Erdogan: Assad is ‘a terrorist’

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan labeled Syrian President Bashar Assad “a terrorist” in a news conference in Tunis on Wednesday. He was speaking alongside his Tunisian counterpart Beji Caid Essebsi.
“Assad is definitely a terrorist who has carried out state terrorism,” Erdogan said. “It is impossible to continue with Assad. How can we embrace the future with a Syrian president who has killed close to a million of his citizens?”
Erdogan also said that peace would not come to Syria while Assad remained its president and that the Syrian regime should play no part in designing the country’s political future.
Mete Sohtaoglu, an Istanbul-based researcher of Middle East politics, thinks that Erdogan’s statement is a message for Moscow and Tehran, encouraging them to clarify the schedule for Assad’s removal.
“The key question is: What can Turkey achieve through talking to Assad that it cannot achieve through talking to Iran and Russia?” Sohtaoglu told Arab News. “Talking to Assad would not be a solution to any of Turkey’s problems. It would, instead, lead to Turkey losing all of its trump cards in Syria.
“Establishing a dialogue with Damascus will cause the US to perceive Ankara as part of the Russia-Iran-Syria axis,” he continued. “Then the US and all anti-Assad actors would increase their political support for the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as a consequence.”
According to Sohtaoglu, no party will be able to instigate a plan in the region or determine a political direction without the support of Turkey.
“At the end of the day, Russia and Iran will have to give up their support of Assad,” he said.  
Dozens of Syrian opposition parties have refused to take part in the Russian-sponsored Sochi peace talks slated for next month because they believe Moscow has failed to put sufficient pressure on Assad. 
Emre Ersen, a Syria analyst from Marmara University in Istanbul, said the problem of Assad’s political future has always topped the list of Turkey’s disagreements with Russia and Iran.
“President Erdogan’s latest statement proves once again that Turkey’s position on this issue has not changed substantially despite its strategic rapprochement with Moscow and Tehran through the Astana process,” Ersen told Arab News.
Yet, according to Ersen, Turkey currently faces more pressing issues in Syria, including the presence of Kurdish-led Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed affiliate the People’s Protection Units (YPG), along with a possible Turkish military operation in Syria’s Afrin district, which is currently under the control of Syrian Kurdish militia.
Ersen believes that Turkey might want to exploit the growing rift between the Assad regime and the PYD/YPG in order to advance its own interests in Syria, as Assad has recently been critical of the PYD/YPG forces, even calling them “traitors” in one of his latest interviews.
Even if that happens, however, Turkey still needs the backing of Russia and Iran for any action it takes against the PYD/YPG.
“Ankara needs the support of Russia and Iran in order to take steps to solve these problems,” Ersen noted. “Therefore, at this stage, the issue of Assad will probably be secondary in Ankara’s negotiations with Moscow and Tehran.”


Egyptians hope foreign university campuses will boost higher education

Updated 59 min 24 sec ago
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Egyptians hope foreign university campuses will boost higher education

  • The law to allow foreign campuses was approved by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi this month
  • Experts say the move will help improve Egyptian universities

CAIRO: A new law approved by the Egyptian president that allows foreign universities to establish campuses in Egypt, aims to boost the development of higher education and scientific research in the country.

The architects of the new law also hope it will build links with other countries to provide more and better educational opportunities, and preserving the national identity of Egyptian students.

Applications from foreign universities will be examined by a committee formed and headed by the minister of higher education, which will include representatives from other ministries and relevant authorities. 

The minister will have the right to close the campus of a foreign university if it violates Egyptian laws or decisions by the authorities, and to prevent the university from accepting new students.

The law was approved by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi this month after passing through parliament in July.

Experts and university professors have differing opinions on the likely effects of foreign universities setting up in Egypt. While many suggest that Egyptian universities will develop and improve to compete, some fear the opposite will happen.

Youssef Rashid, acting secretary of the Supreme Council of Universities, said he believes the new law is good and will increase competition among universities, as a result improving the quality of education everywhere.

Abdullah Sorour, founder of the Union of Egyptian scientists, said: “A partnership between foreign universities and Egyptian universities is the best way forward.” He added that existing foreign education institutes in Egypt do not have a clear identity.

The proposal was first raised more than a year ago but gained traction in June 2018 after Dr. Khalid Abdul Ghaffar, the current minister of higher education, signed a cooperation agreement with the University of Liverpool in England. He described the agreement as “a sign of confidence in the Egyptian education system” and “evidence of the stability of the country.” He added that the British university will “soon” establish a campus in Egypt, and that there are further plans for cooperation with universities in the United States and Canada.

The new law stipulates that foreign universities in Egypt will be free to set their own tuition fees, but that Egyptian students must be allowed to pay in Egyptian pounds. The fees cannot be increased after enrollment. Some people expressed a hope that the increased competition would drive down the cost of tuition fees.

“We want these universities to be cheaper that their Egyptian counterparts,” said Ahmad Al-Lundi, who works at a bank. He said he pays 50,000 Egyptian pounds a year in tuition fees for his son, who is studying in the Faculty of Pharmacy at Al-Ahram Canadian University, and EGP 41,500 for his daughter, who attends Future University.

The cost of tuition at private universities in Egypt varies wildly. The annual fees at the Egyptian Russian University — which has only three faculties: oral medicine, engineering and pharmacy — range from EGP 33,000 to EGP 58,000, while the British University charges about EGP 80,000 for its dentistry faculty, EGP 60,000 for business administration, economics and political science, and EGP 75,000 EGP for engineering and pharmacy. The October University of Modern Sciences and Literature (MSA), which has nine faculties, charges a tuition fee of EGP 87,500 a year for dentistry and EGP 63,500 for pharmacy, in addition to the cost of a British certificate, which is 325 euros.