Guatemala faces Arab, Muslim boycott after Jerusalem announcement: PLO

A Palestinian protester covering his face with a keffiyeh stands near burning tires during clashes with Israeli soldiers near the Huwara checkpoint, south of Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Wednesday. Palestinians are protesting the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (AFP)
Updated 28 December 2017

Guatemala faces Arab, Muslim boycott after Jerusalem announcement: PLO

AMMAN: Guatemala could soon face a cardamom boycott from Arab and Muslim countries, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said Wednesday.
The boycott threat follows Guatemala’s announcement on Monday that it will follow the US in moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
According to the PLO, Guatemala exports annually $300 million worth of cardamom to Arab and Muslim-majority countries. Cardamom is a major ingredient in Arabic dishes and coffee.
“We’ll be conducting an overall assessment of all our alliances, and will evaluate our relations based on mutual interests, with a clear eye as to who is genuinely supporting the cause of peace in Palestine and who is against our national interests,” Anees Sweidan, head of external relations at the PLO, told Arab News.
Former Guatemalan Vice President Edward Stein has warned of the negative repercussions of a boycott on some 45,000 cardamom farmers in his country.
The Guatemala Export Association sent a letter to the Foreign Ministry calling on the president to rescind his Jerusalem decision, the PLO said.
A deputy Israeli minister on Monday said his country is in touch with at least 10 others over the possible transfer of their embassies to Jerusalem after the US recognized the city as Israel’s capital. He did not name the countries.
The PLO has urged the Arab League to initiate an economic boycott against every country that moves its embassy to Jerusalem. Such a boycott forced Guatemala to reverse a similar decision in the 1990s.
The Palestinian government on Wednesday praised the 129 countries that voted against America’s Jerusalem announcement at the UN General Assembly and urged countries that voted in favor to review their positions.
The government praised South Africa for its decision to downgrade its diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv, and said Guatemala’s announcement “is contrary to international law and the decisions of the international community,” and puts the country “on the wrong side of history and international law.”
The Arab League on Wednesday said a meeting of Arab foreign ministers will take place in Amman, Jordan, on Jan. 6.


New board of directors appointed to run Lebanon’s ‘corrupt’ state power company

Updated 08 July 2020

New board of directors appointed to run Lebanon’s ‘corrupt’ state power company

  • Regulation of electricity sector a key condition of international bailout for collapsing economy

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s government finally appointed a new board of directors on Tuesday to control the state-owned electricity company.
Electricite du Liban (EDL) has long been mired in allegations of corruption and fraud. Its annual losses of up to $2 billion a year are the biggest single drain on state finances as Lebanon faces economic collapse and the plunging value of its currency.
Reform of the electricity sector has been a key demand of the International Monetary Fund and potential donor states before they will consider a financial bailout.
“Lebanon’s electricity policy has been inefficient and ineffective for decades — always on the brink of collapse, but staying afloat with last minute patchwork solutions,” said Kareem Chehayeb of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington, DC.
“The economic crisis has made fuel imports more expensive, causing a shortage, with external generator providers hiking their prices or seeking business in Syria. It is a wake-up call to decades of overspending and poor planning of a basic public service.”
The World Bank has described the electricity sector in Lebanon as “tainted with corruption and waste,” and the IMF said “canceling the subsidy to electricity is the most important potential saving in spending.”
Electricity rationing was applied for the first time to hospitals and the law courts, but Minister of Energy Raymond Ghajar said: “The first vessel loaded with diesel for power plants has arrived, and as of Wednesday the power supply will improve.”
Prime Minister Hassan Diab promised the Lebanese people on Tuesday that they would see the results of government efforts to resolve the country’s financial chaos “in the coming weeks.”
Addressing a Cabinet meeting, Diab said: “The glimmer of hope is growing.” However, the appointment of an  EDF board of directors was criticized by opposition politicians. Former prime minister Najib Mikati said the appointments meant “the crime of wrong prevailing over right … is being repeated.”