US-backed forces announce 3-day curfew in Raqqa city

Fighters of Syrian Democratic Forces walk along a road after Raqqa was liberated from the Daesh group, in Raqqa, Syria October 17, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 June 2018
0

US-backed forces announce 3-day curfew in Raqqa city

  • Local security forces in Syria’s northern city of Raqqa announced a two-day curfew starting Sunday in response to intelligence on potential attacks by the Daesh group
  • Daesh was kicked out of its former bastion Raqqa in October by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which then stood up police units to hold the city

AMMAN: US-backed forces in control of Syria’s Raqqa city imposed a three-day curfew on Sunday and declared a state of emergency saying Daesh militants had infiltrated the city and planned a bombing campaign.
Witnesses say internal security forces affiliated to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who had announced late last night the surprise curfew from dawn in the former Daesh stronghold until Tuesday, set up checkpoints across the devastated city.
A statement said the state of emergency in the city were “protective measures.”
“Our intelligence apparatus has received information of the entry of terrorist groups tied to Daesh that are about to wage attacks to undermine secuity in the city,” the statement read.
The curfew prevents anyone from leaving or entering the city that was retaken by US-backed militias last October, after a four-month battle that left thousands of civilians dead and most of its neighborhoods flattened in devastating US led aerial strikes.
Daesh in 2014 had declared Raqqa the capital of its self-proclaimed state. Two residents said the city has seen in recent weeks growing tensions between the majority Arab residents and SDF forces dominated by Kurdish personnel that spilled into sporadic protests last month. The protests, quelled by force, called for the SDF’s eviction from the city.
They said many of its over 100,000 residents are angered by a policy of obligatory military conscription of youths and resentful of perceived discriminatory practices against the majority Arab population by senior Kurdish officials who effectively run the city.
The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, denies these accusations and says its local councils are run by the city’s residents and says it seeks to redress decades of ethnic discrimination against Kurds by the Syria’s ruling Baath party
Another resident in touch with local officials said the security operation aimed at arresting the leader of a disaffected Arab rebel group Thwar Al-Raqqa, affiliated with the SDF. A previous attempt last month to arrest him provoked violent demonstrations by his supporters.


Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

Updated 15 min 22 sec ago
0

Egypt offers residency to foreign investors

  • A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000
  • To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor

CAIRO: In an attempt to further boost its booming real estate sector and attract foreign investment, Egypt will grant residency permits to foreigners who invest at least $100,000 in the country’s property market.
The growth rate of Egypt’s property market stands at 133 percent in 2018. This has been fueled by strong demand for housing, along with the sporadic launch of residential construction projects.
The minimum investment required to obtain a residency permit is $100,000. A three-year residency is on offer for those who invest $200,000, and five years for those who purchase property worth $400,000. The offer also applies to properties that are still under construction.
Khaled Abbas, the deputy minister of housing, said the procedures for the scheme are being set up in consultation with the Passport, Immigration and Nationality Administration.
To begin the process for obtaining Egyptian residency, a preliminary contract must be agreed between the property owner and the foreign investor, and then signed by an authorized body, such the Urban Communities Authority, the Tourism Development Authority or the governorate in which the property is located. Bank statements must also be provided confirming that the money has been transferred from overseas. The passport office will then approve the period of residence.
Members of the House of Representatives welcomed the announcement as a positive move for Egypt and an incentive for foreign investment, which it is hoped will create jobs and economic opportunities.
Whether the public will be so keen remains to be seen.
“This might be a bit problematic,” said Aly Salem, a resident of Cairo. “The housing demand in Egypt is already high, with the surging youth population and more and more people looking to get married each year. Where will they stay, if foreigners start swooping in and acquiring both residency and a huge housing unit with just $100,000?”
Offering further details, Gen. Kamel Amer, the head of the Parliament’s Defense and National Security Committee, said foreigners will not have any political rights for the first five years of residency and they will not be eligible to vote for 10 years. He also said spouses and children of investors will not be granted residency unless they live in Egypt.
Spain and Portugal have implemented similar programs in an attempt to boost their property markets. Previously, a foreigner had to live in Egypt for 10 consecutive years to be eligible for naturalization.
The new residency law is part of the efforts to repair the damage to Egypt’s economy caused by severe austerity measures imposed after the $12 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund in 2016.
The cost and size of properties in Egypt, which are often large and lavish apartments, compare favorably to those in many other countries. Despite this, few Egyptians can afford to pay for a house upfront, but some private property developers are offering 10-year, interest-free installment plans.