Jordanian education and tourism ministers resign over Dead Sea disaster

Updated 01 November 2018

Jordanian education and tourism ministers resign over Dead Sea disaster

  • 21 people died in flash floods last week, many of them school children on a field trip.
  • Many of those killed were children under 14.

AMMAN: Jordan's tourism and education ministers resigned Thursday in response to flash floods near the Dead Sea that killed 21 people- mostly children.

The government has come under increasing pressure for the disaster last Thursday after it emerged that a school trip had gone ahead despite warnings of bad weather. 

The Minister of Tourism Lina Annab and Minister of Education Azmi Mahafzah submitted their resignation to Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz after several members of parliament called for their dismissal earlier this week. 

Annab said that she had resigned from her post as Minister of Tourism and Antiquities “in light of the general political climate and the painful situation that our beloved country experienced and is experiencing.”

It has not yet been announced whether the Jordanian prime minister had accepted the resignations or not.

Pupils on the school trip, their teachers and minders had stepped out of their bus in a tourist area called Al-Miyah Al-Sakhina when they were hit by a flash flood that washed them towards the nearby Dead Sea.

Twenty-one people died in the floods and many of them were children under 14. Families picnicking in the popular destination were also among the dead and injured.

Jordanian political scientist Philip Madant told Arab News that the decision helped preserve Prime Minister Omar Razzaz's government. 

MP Nabil Gheishan told Arab News that the resignation avoids a major confrontation that could have brought down the government. “This was the least that they can do to ensure the government stays.”





Syria’s Kurds criticise Damascus ‘threats’

Syrian Defense Minister Ali Ayoub, above, said the government is determined to return the Kurdish-led areas. (AFP)
Updated 19 March 2019

Syria’s Kurds criticise Damascus ‘threats’

  • Syrian defence minister made the remarks during a press conference on Monday
  • SDF said the remarks expose the government’s divisive plans

OMAR OIL FIELD, Syria: Syria’s Kurds have criticized the “threatening language” of the Damascus regime after it pledged to retake northeastern areas they control by reconciliation or by force.

The minority have largely stayed out of Syria’s war, instead carving out a de-facto autonomous region across a large swathe of northern and northeastern Syria.

That region is held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces who have been battling the Daesh group with backing from a US-led coalition.

Syrian Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayoub on Monday said his government would recapture all areas held by the SDF “in one of two ways: a reconciliation agreement or... by force.”

In a statement late Monday, the semi-autonomous administration slammed his comments.

“The Syrian defense minister’s statement regarding the SDF... reflects the continuation of the racist and sterile policy that has led Syria to this disastrous situation,” it said in a statement.

“The use of threatening language against the SDF who have liberated and protected the north and east of Syria from terrorists only serves those forces working to divide Syria,” it said.

US President Donald Trump’s announcement in December of a pullout of all US forces from Syria shocked the Kurds and sent them grappling to mend fences with Damascus.

Dialogue between both sides has been ongoing, but has failed to bear fruit.

Damascus rejects Kurdish self-rule and wants a return of government institutions to oil-rich SDF-held areas.

The Kurds want protection from a long-threatened Turkish offensive, but seek some form of decentralization from Damascus.

“The autonomous administration... stands by its position of the need for a solution and dialogue within the Syrian framework for all pending issues,” the Kurdish authorities said.

“But we want all sides to know that we, while choosing the political solution, we will spare no effort in the legitimate defense of our rights if necessary,” he said.

Eight years into a war that has killed more than 370,000 people, the Damascus regime controls almost two-thirds of the country after a series of victories against rebels and jihadists.

But the SDF-held region, a northwestern jihadist bastion and border areas held by Turkey’s Syrian proxies remain beyond its control.