Iraqi Kurds arrest suspects in killing of Turkish vice consul

Kurdish security members stand guard near a restaurant where Turkish diplomats and Turkish consulate employee were killed in Erbil, Iraq July 17, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 21 July 2019

Iraqi Kurds arrest suspects in killing of Turkish vice consul

  • No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Ankara on Thursday launched a "comprehensive air operation" against the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan's Qandil mountain area
  • Since May, Turkey has been conducting a ground offensive and bombing campaign against Qandil to root out the PKK, considered a "terror organisation" by Ankara for its three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state

ERBIL, IRAQ: Iraqi Kurdish authorities announced on Saturday they had arrested two suspects involved in the murder of three people, including a Turkish diplomat, in the regional capital Erbil this week.

The autonomous region’s security council said its counterterrorism unit had arrested Mazloum Dag, a 27-year-old from Turkey’s Diyarbakir region.
The council had put out a wanted notice for Dag a day earlier in connection to Wednesday’s killing of Turkish Vice Consul Osman Kose and two Iraqi nationals in the regional capital Erbil.
It later announced it had also arrested Mohammad Biskesiz, identifying him as “one of the accomplices of Mazloum Dag.”
It did not specify Biskesiz’s nationality or whether he was apprehended with Dag or separately.
Turkey’s Anadolu state news agency said the suspect is the brother of Dersim Dag, a member of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP).
The HDP, the country’s second largest opposition group, is regularly accused by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of links to Turkey’s outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
It “strongly” condemned the Erbil attack, calling it an “absolutely unacceptable provocation attempt.”
The HDP also slammed the accusation that one of its deputies was “designated as a target because of his brother,” without mentioning any names.

FASTFACT

Erbil’s security council had put out a wanted notice for Mazloum Dag a day earlier in connection to Wednesday’s killing of Turkish Vice Consul Osman Kose and two Iraqi nationals in the regional capital Erbil.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Ankara on Thursday launched a “comprehensive air operation” against the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Qandil mountain area.
Since May, Turkey has been conducting a ground offensive and bombing campaign against Qandil to root out the PKK, considered a “terror organization” by Ankara for its three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state.

PKK targeted
Other airstrikes on Thursday night targeted “PKK bases and members” in the Makhmur area south of Iraq’s northern city of Mosul, wounding two in a displacement camp, local sources told AFP.
The attack on Wednesday saw at least one gunman with two pistols fire on a group of diplomats in a restaurant in Erbil. Kose and one Iraqi died on Wednesday, while the second Iraqi succumbed to his wounds overnight.


Egypt’s creative solutions to the plastic menace

Updated 13 sec ago

Egypt’s creative solutions to the plastic menace

  • Egyptian social startups are taking alternative approaches to fostering awareness and reducing waste
  • While initiatives around the world are taking action to combat this problem, some Egyptian projects are doing it more creatively

CAIRO: Global plastics production reached 348 million tons in 2017, rising from 335 million tons in 2016, according to Plastics Europe. 

Critically, most plastic waste is not properly managed: Around 55 percent of it was landfilled or discarded in 2015. These numbers are extremely concerning because plastic products take anything from 450 to 1,000 years to decompose, and the effects on the environment, especially on marine and human life, are catastrophic.

While initiatives around the world are taking action to combat this problem, some Egyptian projects are doing it more creatively.

“We’re the first website in the Middle East and North Africa that trades waste,” said Alaa Afifi, founder and CEO of Bekia. “People can get rid of any waste at their disposal — plastic, paper and cooking oil — and exchange it for over 65 products on our website.”

Products for trading include rice, tea, pasta, cooking oil, subway tickets and school supplies.

Bekia was launched in Cairo in 2017. Initially, the business model did not prove successful.

“We used to rent a car and go to certain locations every 40 days to collect waste from people,” Afifi, 26, explained. “We then created a website and started encouraging people to use it.”

After the website was launched, people could wait at home for someone to collect the waste. “Instead of 40 days, we now could visit people within a week.”

To use Bekia’s services, people need to log onto the website and specify what they want to discard. They are assigned points based on the waste they are offering, and these points can be used in one of three ways: Donated to people in need, saved for later, or exchanged for products. As for the collected waste, it is given to specialized recycling companies for processing.

“We want to have 50,000 customers over the next two years who regularly use our service to get rid of their waste,” Afifi said.  

Trying to spread environmental awareness has not been easy. “We had a lot of trouble with initial investment at first, and we got through with an investment that was far from enough. The second problem we faced was spreading this culture among people — in the first couple of months, we received no orders,” Afifi said.

The team soldiered on and slowly built a client base, currently serving 7,000 customers. In terms of what lies ahead for Bekia, he said: “We’re expanding from 22 to 30 areas in Cairo this year. We’re launching an app very soon and a new website with better features.”

Go Clean, another Egyptian recycling startup dedicated to raising environmental awareness, works under the patronage of the Ministry of Environment. “We started in 2017 by recycling waste from factories, and then by February 2019 we started expanding,” said founder and CEO Mohammed Hamdy, 30.

The Cairo-based company collects recyclables from virtually all places, including households, schools, universities, restaurants, cafes, companies and embassies. The customers separate the items into categories and then fill out a registration form. Alternatively, they can make contact through WhatsApp or Facebook. A driver is then dispatched to collect the waste, carrying a scale to weigh it. 

“The client can be paid in cash for the weight of their recyclables, or they can make a donation to a special needs school in Cairo,” Hamdy explained. There is also the option of trading the waste for dishwashing soap, with more household products to be added in the future.

Trying to cover a country with 100 million people was never going to be easy, and Go Clean faced some logistical problems. It overcame them by hiring more drivers and getting more trucks. There was another challenge along the way: “We had to figure out a way to train the drivers, from showing them how to use GPS and deal with clients,” said Hamdy.

“We want to spread awareness about the environment everywhere. We go to schools, universities, companies and even factories to give sessions about the importance of recycling and how dangerous plastic is. We’re currently covering 20 locations across Cairo and all of Alexandria. We want to cover all of Egypt in the future,” he added.

With a new app on the way, Hamdy said things are looking positive for the social startup, and people are becoming invested in the initiative. “We started out with seven orders per day, and now we get over 100.”