Egypt and Japan discuss ongoing museum megaproject

Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anany looks at exhibits on display during the opening of "Tutankhamun's Unseen Treasures" exhibition at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt November 15, 2017.(REUTERS)
Updated 09 September 2019

Egypt and Japan discuss ongoing museum megaproject

  • More than 48,000 artifacts have been moved to the museum. Japan is taking part in restoring monuments, and is providing state-of-the-art technology in the museum’s displays

CAIRO: Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Anany met Japanese Ambassador Masaki Noke in Cairo to discuss ongoing preparations to inaugurate the Grand Egyptian Museum.
Its construction, which began in 2006, is almost complete, and it is scheduled to open in the last quarter of 2020.
The meeting included Noke’s accompanying delegation from his country’s embassy and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
They discussed the possibility of the Japanese providing technical assistance to operate the museum after its inauguration, as part of a partnership that involved two loans worth a total of $740 million. If the current negotiations succeed, the loans from Japan to Egypt would total $1.5 billion.
The museum, a national megaproject, was due to be inaugurated in 2015, but nationwide protests and a drop in tourism caused delays. As a result, Egypt was forced to borrow from Japan to complete construction.

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48,000 - artifacts have been moved to the museum, due to be inaugurated in 2015, but nationwide protests and a drop in tourism caused delays.

More than 48,000 artifacts have been moved to the museum. Japan is taking part in restoring monuments, and is providing state-of-the-art technology in the museum’s displays.
Archaeologist Ahmed Nabih said Japanese efforts in establishing the museum “accelerated the process of its construction.”
Nabih, who visited the museum, said it is a “great place” that will attract tourists from all over the world.
But economic affairs journalist Amira Gad said the new loans might further burden the state and increase its foreign debt, which has exceeded $1 trillion.
Still, Gad expressed confidence that the museum’s revenue will cover its costs and perhaps even make it profitable.


US to pull last troops from north Syria

Updated 14 October 2019

US to pull last troops from north Syria

  • The developments illustrate Washington’s waning influence over events in Syria
  • Turkey aims to neutralize the Kurdish YPG militia, the main element of US’s Kurdish-led ally the Syrian Democratic Forces

WASHINGTON/BEIRUT: The United States said on Sunday it will withdraw its remaining 1,000 troops from northern Syria in the face of an expanding Turkish offensive while Syria’s army struck a deal with Kurdish forces to redeploy along its border with Turkey, both major victories for Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The developments illustrate Washington’s waning influence over events in Syria and the failure of the US policy of keeping Assad from reasserting state authority over areas lost during the more than eight-year conflict with rebels trying to end his rule.
The developments also represent wins for Russia and Iran, which have backed Assad since 2011 when his violent effort to crush what began as peaceful protests against his family’s decades-long rule of Syria exploded into a full-blown civil war.
While the US withdrawal moves American troops out of the line of fire, the return of Syrian soldiers to the Turkish border opens up the possibility of a wider conflagration should the Syrian army come in direct conflict with Turkish forces.
The Turkish onslaught in northern Syria has also raised the prospect that Daesh militants and their families held by the Kurdish forces targeted by Turkey may escape — scores were said to have done so already — and permit the group’s revival.
The remarkable turn of events was set in motion a week ago when US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw about 50 special operations forces from two outposts in northern Syria, a step widely seen as paving the way for Turkey to launch its week-long incursion against Kurdish militia in the region.
Turkey aims to neutralize the Kurdish YPG militia, the main element of Washington’s Kurdish-led ally, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has been a key US ally in dismantling the “caliphate” set up by Daesh militants in Syria.
Ankara regards the YPG as a terrorist group aligned with Kurdish insurgents in Turkey.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said the offensive would extend from Kobani in the west to Hasaka in the east and extend some 30 kilometers into Syrian territory, with the town of Ras al Ain now in Turkish control.
US Defense Secretary Mike Esper said the United States decided to withdraw its roughly 1,000 troops in northern Syria — two US officials told Reuters it could pull the bulk out in days — after learning of the deepening Turkish offensive.
It was unclear what would happen to the several hundred US troops at the American military outpost of Tanf, near Syria’s southern border with Iraq and Jordan.
Another factor behind the decision, Esper indicated in an interview with the CBS program “Face the Nation,” was that the SDF aimed to make a deal with Russia and Syria to counter the Turkish onslaught. Several hours later, the Kurdish-led administration said it had struck just such an agreement for the Syrian army to deploy along the length of the border with Turkey to help repel Ankara’s offensive.
The deployment would help the SDF in countering “this aggression and liberating the areas that the Turkish army and mercenaries had entered,” it added, referring to Turkey-backed Syrian rebels, and would also allow for the liberation of other Syrian cities occupied by the Turkish army such as Afrin.
The fighting has sparked Western concerns that the SDF, holding large swathes of northern Syria once controlled by Daesh, would be unable to keep thousands of militants in jail and tens of thousands of their family members in camps.