Tunisia, Russia call for Arab League to readmit Syria

Tunisia’s foreign minister Khemaies Jhinaoui said that ‘Syria is an Arab state, and its natural place is within the Arab League.’ (AFP)
Updated 26 January 2019
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Tunisia, Russia call for Arab League to readmit Syria

  • The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011
  • ‘The question of Syria returning to the Arab League does not depend on Tunisia but on the Arab League’

TUNIS: Syria’s “natural place” is within the Arab League, Tunisia’s foreign minister said Saturday, ahead of the organization’s annual summit in Tunis in March.
“Syria is an Arab state, and its natural place is within the Arab League,” Khemaies Jhinaoui said during a news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, who is on a tour of North African countries.
The Arab League suspended Syria’s membership in November 2011 as the death toll in the country’s civil war mounted.
“The question of Syria returning to the Arab League does not depend on Tunisia but on the Arab League,” Jhinaoui said.
“The foreign ministers (of member states) will decide on this subject,” he added. “What interests us is Syria’s stability and security.”
Persistent divisions between the Arab League’s member states have worked against Syria’s readmission.
Russia’s intervention in Syria’s war since 2015 in favor of President Bashar Assad has turned the tide of the conflict in the regime’s favor.
The United Arab Emirates reopened its embassy in Damascus in December, the same month Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir made the first visit of any Arab leader to the Syrian capital since the start of the war.
But Qatar earlier this month rejected normalizing ties with Assad.
Lavrov backed overtures to readmit Syria.
“As we have discussed in Algeria and Morocco over the past few days, we would like Tunis to also support Syria’s return to the Arab family, the Arab League,” he said in Tunis.
Lavrov, who has also visited Morocco on his tour, said that Tunisia and Russia agreed to ramp up “anti-terror cooperation.”
In reference to Franco-Italian differences on Libya, he said: “We must harmonize the efforts of outside mediators seeking a settlement to the Libyan conflict.
“This must be done under the sponsorship of the United Nations and taking into account the points of view of neighbors such as Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt.”
Russia’s foreign minister, winding up his North Africa visit, also met Tunisia’s president and prime minister on Saturday.


New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

Updated 26 April 2019
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New social deal signed in Morocco, salaries to rise

  • The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July
  • Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues

RABAT: The Moroccan government on Thursday announced a “new social deal” with employers and the main labor unions, under which many workers will enjoy a pay rise.
The deal agreed by the General Confederation of Moroccan Businesses (CGEM) and the three main unions — the UMT, UGTM and UNMT — is the fruit of months of negotiations
The minimum wage, currently 2,570 dirhams a month ($266), will be increased by 10 percent over two years from July, except for the agricultural sector.
Government-paid family allowances will also rise.
Meanwhile public sector workers will be given a 300-500 dirham monthly pay increase over three years.
Of Morocco’s main trade unions only the Democratic Labour Confederation has not signed the social deal which, according to the government statement, is aimed at “improving spending power and the social climate.”
Last July King Mohammed VI urged the government to take “urgent action” to address social issues, in particular health and education in the north African country which has been hit by protests over employment and corruption.
Mohammed VI pointed to social support and social protection programs that “overlap each other, suffer from a lack of consistency and fail to effectively target eligible groups.”
After months of stalemate, the dossier was handed to the interior ministry at the beginning of the year and the final rounds of talks were held.
The social unrest began in October 2016 after the death of a fisherman and spiralled into a wave of protests demanding more development in the neglected Rif region and railing against corruption and unemployment.
Morocco is marked by glaring social and territorial inequalities, against a backdrop of high unemployment among young people. In 2018, it was ranked 123rd out of 189 countries and territories on the Human Development Index.