Lebanon and Jordan urge Kazakhstan to protect oil-field workers after mass brawl injures dozens

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Video footage showed the Arab workers being kicked and punched by large numbers of local colleagues in Kazakhstan. (Social media photo)
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The Jordanian ambassador to Kazakhstan poses with injured workers after he traveled to the oil field. (Jordanian Foreign Ministry)
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(A screengrab from one of the many videos of the violence circulated on social media. (Twitter)
Updated 01 July 2019

Lebanon and Jordan urge Kazakhstan to protect oil-field workers after mass brawl injures dozens

  • Videos of the attacks on Arab engineers and workers were widely circulated on social media in Arab countries
  • Jordan’s ambassador travels to the oil field to meet the injured workers

JERUSALEM/MOSCOW: A brawl between Kazakh workers and their Arab colleagues in one of Kazakhstan's largest oil fields injured 30 people and sparked an outcry in Jordan and Lebanon.

Videos of the attacks on Arab engineers and workers were widely circulated on social media in Arab countries. The scenes showed them being kicked and punched by large numbers of local colleagues. Some of those attacked were covered in blood and their faces suffering serious bruises.

The attacks happened after Eli Daoud, an engineer from Lebanon, posted a short video on social media featuring a Kazakh woman.  He put his hand over the woman’s mouth while he was speaking on his walkie-talkie, which some locals felt was insulting to their country.

Later Daoud said: “I apologize to my friends and the people of Kazakhstan, a country I have been working in for two years. The video was not meant to be insulting to my colleagues.”

The engineers work for CCC, the Middle East’s largest construction company, which employs more than 100 Jordanian, Palestinian and Lebanese staff in Kazakhstan. The attack  on Saturday appears to have been a reprisal targeting all CCC’s Arab staff.

Interfax-Kazakhstan reported Sunday that the oilfield is managed by Tengizchevroil, TCO, a joint venture that includes Chevron and ExxonMobil.

Nurlan Nogayev, the governor of Atyrau region, said during a meeting with company management that the brawl resulted from disparities in working conditions between foreign contractors and local Kazakh employees.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri ordered Secretary General of the High Relief Committee, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Kheir to follow the case.

Lebanon’s Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab also called his counterpart in Kazakhstan to discuss protecting the Lebanese workers.

Kheir told the local MTV television that the situation now is under control. He added that a total of 17 Arabs, including one Lebanese and six Palestinians using Lebanese travel documents, were among the injured.

Lebanon's ambassador to Kazakhstan Jescar Khoury told local media that all Lebanese citizens who worked at the oil field are now under police protection in a hotel in a nearby city.

In Jordan, Crown Prince Hussein asked the country's prime minister and minister for foreign affairs to follow the case of Jordanian citizens.

The Kingdom’s ambassador traveled to the oil field to meet the injured workers.

A foreign ministry spokesman said Saturday they requested that the Kazakh authorities provide “all necessary measures to provide immediate security protection for the Jordanian citizens.” Jordan’s ambassador to Kazakhstan, Yousef Abdel Ghani, met the engineers on Sunday.

Jordanian MP Khalil Attiyeh called on Prime Minister Omar Razzaz to lodge an official complaint with the Kazakh government. “This is an unacceptable attack and I call on the government to send an official delegation to follow up on the case of Jordanians in general, and those injured in particular, and ensure their safe return to the homeland,” he said.

(With AP)

Navy destroyer’s Beirut visit a ‘security reminder’: US envoy

Updated 10 min 26 sec ago

Navy destroyer’s Beirut visit a ‘security reminder’: US envoy

BEIRUT: The US Navy destroyer USS Ramage docked at the port of Beirut for 24 hours as a “security reminder,” according to Elizabeth Richard, the US ambassador to Lebanon.

“The US Navy is not far away, and Our ships were often near the Mediterranean, and will remain so,” the American envoy said.

Ricard and Vice Admiral James J. Malloy – the commander of the 5th Fleet – whose area of responsibility includes the waters of Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, hosted ‘an on-board reception for US and Lebanese officials.’

USS Ramage is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, named after Vice Admiral Lawson P. Ramage, a notable submarine commander and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II. The ship specializes in destroying guided missiles launched from warships, aside from providing multiple offensive and defensive tasks.

Richard assured that “the security and stability in the East Mediterranean are of utmost importance to the United States and to Lebanon as well, and with regards to the issue of oil derivatives that concerns more than one state in the region, we hope that Lebanon joins in, as the issue of maritime security will soon acquire more importance.”

She assured that: “the presence of the USA in these waters is of common interest, and the presence of the American destroyer in Lebanon is a political message.”

Richard also said that partnership with Lebanon was not limited to military cooperation, and that the USA is “committed to help the Lebanese people through this period of economic hardship, and to supporting the Lebanese institutions that defend Lebanese sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, Admiral Malloy said during the reception that “our military relations with Lebanon transcends the issue of military hardware, and the Lebanese armed forces have set plans to improve its naval capabilities, and the USA will continue playing the primary role in supporting these efforts.”

Built in 1993, the USS Ramage was put into active service in 1995 with a crew of almost 300 officers and enlisted personnel. It is 154 meters long and 20 meters and could reach a top speed of 30 knots, or 56 kilometers per hour.