UAE and Arab countries ‘working to ensure freedom of navigation’ in region’s waters

Jordanian King Abdullah II (R), accompanied by his son Crown Prince Hussein (L) being received by the UAE’s Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed (C), Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, upon the former’s arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport. (AFP/Jordanian Royal Palace/Yousef Allan)
Updated 23 May 2019
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UAE and Arab countries ‘working to ensure freedom of navigation’ in region’s waters

  • Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed makes comments as he meets Jordan's King Abdullah
  • UAE says international participation in an investigation into ‘sabotage attacks’ on oil tankers will lead to ‘impartial conclusions’

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said Wednesday the UAE is working with Arab countries to guarantee the freedom of navigation for ships in the region.
He was speaking after the UAE said earlier that the participation of several countries in an investigation into last week’s attack on oil tankers off its coast would support the “impartiality and transparency” of the findings.




Jordanian King Abdullah II (L) and his son Crown Prince Hussein (R) meeting with the UAE’s Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed (C), Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, in Abu Dhabi. (AFP/Jordanian Royal Palace/Yousef Allan)

Abu Dhabi has not yet blamed anyone for the acts of sabotage on four vessels including two Saudi oil tankers, but a senior UAE official has said Abu Dhabi was concerned about Iranian behavior in the region.
Speaking as he met Jordan’s King Abdullah in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed said the UAE was closely co-ordinating with Jordan on the current regional developments to “ensure security and stability in the region,” state news agency WAM reported.




Jordanian King Abdullah II (L) meeting with the UAE’s Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, in Abu Dhabi. (AFP/Jordanian Royal Palace/Yousef Allan)

King Abdullah said the security of the UAE and Gulf region is an integral part of Jordan’s security. The two countries will also conduct joint military exercises in the foreseeable future.
The investigation is continuing into the attacks on the tankers off the coast of the UAE emirate Fujairah. The US and France, which has a naval base in Abu Dhabi, are participating in the probe as well as Saudi Arabia and Norway.




Jordanian King Abdullah II (C), accompanied by his son Crown Prince Hussein (R) being received by the UAE’s Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed (L), Crown Prince of Abu, in Abu Dhabi. (AFP/Jordanian Royal Palace/Yousef Allan)

The UAE said earlier on Wednesday that the participation of several countries in the investigation would support the "impartiality and transparency" of the findings.
“The keenness of our international partners to participate in the investigation and the concerted efforts support the impartiality and transparency in arriving at results,” the UAE foreign ministry said.
US government sources told Reuters they believe Iran encouraged Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia or Iraq-based militias to carry out the operation.
Tehran has distanced itself from the attack, which comes as Iran and the United States spar over sanctions and the US military presence in the Gulf region.
The UAE foreign ministry welcomed the participation of several “friendly and brotherly” countries in the investigation, but did not name them. It did not give a timeframe, saying the probe would take “the time required.”




Jordanian King Abdullah II (C) being received by the UAE’s Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed (R), Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, upon the former’s arrival at Abu Dhabi International Airport. (AFP/Jordanian Royal Palace/Yousef Allan)

A Norwegian-registered oil products tanker and a UAE fuel bunker barge were among the vessels hit in an area that serves as one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs located just outside the Strait of Hormuz.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash has said Abu Dhabi would show restraint after the attack and that it was committed to de-escalation during what he described as a “difficult situation” caused by Iranian behavior in the region.
Saudi Arabia has called for emergency Gulf and Arab summits in Makkah on May 30 to discuss the implications of the tanker attack and an armed drone strike two days later on Saudi oil installations in the Kingdom, for which the Houthis have claimed responsibility.


In Syria’s Idlib, education a casualty of war

A displaced Syrian girl carries books on her head near a bus converted into a classroom in the village of Hazano in northwestern Syria. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2019

In Syria’s Idlib, education a casualty of war

  • The conditions are dire however, with camp manager Hammud Al-Sayah explaining initial planning was done for 50 children, yet attendees now top 375

HAZANO, SYRIA: Near the village of Hazano in northwestern Syria, children come running through the olive groves every morning to meet the bus that brings school to their improvised tented camp.
Years of fighting and displacement in Idlib province have wrought chaos for the education of children, destroying schools and scattering families into homelessness across the countryside.
More than 400,000 people have been displaced since April alone, when the Russian-backed regime upped its deadly bombardment of the opposition-dominated enclave.
“These children can’t go to school, it’s too far from where they are,” said Farid Bakir, a local program manager with Syria Relief, the charity that launched the bus project.
In Hazano camp, the children get in line and hope to be among those who squeeze into the bus for a few hours.
A whiteboard is installed in the back, a thick carpet laid on the floor and a few dozen small desks, also used as chairs, are rearranged depending on the activity.
The ceiling is too low for the teacher to stand fully upright but Hussein Ali Azkour, a young boy wearing a yellow T-shirt, is enthusiastic about his classroom-on-wheels.
“The difference between a normal school and the bus, is that the bus is air-conditioned. It’s better than a thousand schools,” he said.
“When we fled here, there was no school and they started bringing the buses. If these buses were to stop coming, we would have no education and learn nothing.”
The buses cater only for ages ranging from five to 12 and include classes in Arabic, mathematics, science and sometimes English, as well as singing and drawing.
Since the project was launched in May, around 1,000 children have benefitted from the bus program, Bakir said.
That is a drop in the ocean of problems children, who represent more than half of the Idlib region’s 3 million inhabitants, are facing. According to Save the Children, the heavy bombardment since late April has damaged or otherwise impacted 87 educational facilities, while a further 200 are being used as shelters for those the violence displaced.
The UK-based NGO says some parents have been pleading with them to shut down schools for fear they would be targeted in regime air strikes.
“As the new school year starts, the remaining functional schools can only accommodate up to 300,000 of the 650,000 school-age children,” it said.
Ragheb Hassoun’s children are among the few who have been fortunate enough to receive a few hours a week of lessons through the bus project, but he says the situation is not tenable.
“We want something permanent — a school on the land where we live,” the 28-year-old said.
He and his family have been displaced several times since the start of the conflict in Syria eight years ago.

NUMBER 300K

schoolchildren out of the 650,000 can be accommodated in the remaining functional schools as the new school year starts, according to Save the Children.

Hassoun said he would be happy if his children could at least go to school during normal hours in a tent at the camp.
This is what children have in a larger camp near Dana, north of the city of Idlib, where the local school is housed under two large UN tents.
The conditions are dire however, with camp manager Hammud Al-Sayah explaining initial planning was done for 50 children, yet attendees now top 375.
Books underarm — or with bags strapped to backs — pupils are squeezed around black desks, while those unable to find a seat perch cross-legged on the floor.
Children who are four or five years apart attend the same classes.
“The pressure is huge,” Sayah said, admitting that the schooling conditions have a serious impact on the quality of education.
At 10 years of age, Abdel Razaq knows that his education is being compromised.
Standing in front of the white tent he has come to call his school, he said he dreams of a big building “where the number of children in each class is lower.”
“And where we could sit comfortably and hear what the teachers are saying.”